A Skye youth club has had a positive response from local groups and organisations interested in taking part in an island-wide project aimed at increasing young people’s knowledge and understanding of drugs and substance abuse issues.
The initiative is being led on a voluntary basis by Nicholas Kelly through Broadford Youth Club as a charitable group for the benefit of young people across Skye. Is also being supported by Roddy MacLeod in his role as Skye youth development officer.
The drugs and substance misuse sessions for Skye’s young people will be delivered between May and September by Stevie Boyle who has a wealth of experience working with both young people and adults through his role with the Highland Council and his own charity organisation.
Speaking to the Free Press, he said: “I work as a youth justice practitioner with the Highland Council’s youth action team, and I have been in the post about four and half years now, working with 12-25-year-olds.
“That is mostly on offending behaviour and substance misuse. I am now also working part-time with my charity Living Hope, where I am working and supporting adults in recovery, substance misuse and mental health.
“In the sessions, I am looking to give young folk an awareness of what issues substances can bring about in the short-term and long-term. I did a talk with some of the kids on Skye a few years ago, and the response from some of them was that while they might not have been dabbling themselves, they were concerned about relatives and friends.”
Highlighting his own experiences of losing people close to him due to drugs and alcohol misuse, he said: “I have been working with people in addiction and recovery, and I have lost many people over the years, so I am coming from a very real place in trying to articulate some of the outcomes from long-term use. These can lead to death, break up of families, and prison.
“I guess I am about the shock treatment at times, because that is what I live with, that is how I work with people, especially adults.”
Nicholas Kelly added: “The last few years, even before the pandemic, I would hear talk among young people about drugs. More and more young people coming to me are worried about their peers.
“Last year when several issues started to creep into our own area here at Broadford Youth Club, I thought that we needed to try and do something about it. I also thought if it’s happening with us these issues are happening with all young people, clubs, and groups.
“When the opportunity to apply for some funding to facilitate this project came up, I was ready for it. Thankfully, our application to Youth Link Scotland’s Social Isolation and Loneliness fund was successful and allows us to kick on with this project.”
He added: “It will be great having Stevie involved, I have had Stevie come along and speak to young people many years ago. His experience and approach hit home with so many backs then and I hope it will hit home once again with so many.
Stevie added: “If we don’t get these young folk at the right time, I am going to be dealing with them in 10 to 15 years – as I am with adults in my charity. I would rather intervene to prevent that.”
If your youth group or team would like to take part in the sessions – in which Stevie would have a short chat with the young people involved – please contact: Roddy.MacLeod@highlifehighland.com
Article by Adam Gordon, image by Willie Urquhart.