| Helen Sharp
For many years, the service for young people affected by drugs and alcohol in Lambeth followed a traditional approach of appointment based assessment, treatment and care-planning.
Commissioners wondered why many young people would not attend or dropped out. So over the course of 12 months, they led a process of co-design with over 80 young people, parents, commissioners and youth services. What they discovered were simple and achievable changes and included the need for the provision to be open to peer groups, community based, using existing resources and focused on developing young people’s skills and abilities rather than their drug/alcohol use. As a result, an alliance called i-Dream was contracted, consisting of three local youth centres and three creative media, art and music projects.
The contract is testing out the use of appreciative inquiry (AI) as a therapeutic mechanism and every practitioner has been trained and supported to use the principles of AI as their core approach. These principles encourage them help young people identify their skills and abilities, many of which have not been named or recognized before. They are then supported as they dream a different future for themselves and use creativity to explore and embed this further into their way of thinking.
With these resources and skills now part of an identity, a future holds more promise and the young people are no longer identified by their problems and past issues.
The i-Dream Alliance opened its doors on 1 April 2015 and is being evaluated by the University of Brighton over two years. Early indications are positive with 100% retention and significant changes in the attitudes of the young people. Watch this space as we will report back the findings overall once they are published in 2017.
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