Sharing learning from London School's substance misuse education across Europe
Pamela Cuthill and Tola-Maria Adeyinka of Foundation66's Creative Education for Drugs and Alcohol (CEDA) service recently went to Athens for 10 days to share their learning from working with London schools. Pamela shares her blog with us here.
Pamela Cuthill and Tola-Maria Adeyinka of the Creative Education for Drugs and Alcohol (CEDA) service recently went to Athens, Greece for 10 days. That may initially seem like an odd place to travel to for substance misuse work, but the CEDA service is very proudly funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) based in Greece. As such, we travelled to Athens to share the learning and experience we have gained since the inception of the CEDA service in 2014. During our time in Greece we met with several Greek substance misuse organisations including: Focal Point, OKANA and Kethea. We also worked with students, staff, parents and associates of the International School of Athens (ISA).
First, we met with two psychologists from the International School of Athens – Mrs Maria Protopapa and Mrs Maria Korre. We had a sort of introductory meeting where we all introduced who we are and what we do. CEDA were also asked to deliver a lecture, alongside Mrs. Korre to the parents of students at ISA, as well as local heads of schools. CEDA delivered a lecture on drug and alcohol education for adolescents, and Mrs Maria Korre then covered family therapy and involvement in drug and alcohol use amongst adolescents. After this lecture, we then delivered a session on Cannabis and Alcohol use to students from Year 7 to Year 9 and then a more in depth session to older students in Year 10 to Year 12. The students were very engaged with the workshops, very inquisitive and asked some interesting questions about why cannabis misuse is linked to mental ill health. The feedback was brilliant, with one student stating that he felt "better informed and more empowered" (Marcel, Year 7 student).
We then met with Focal Point and spent the day with the team there. The mission of the Greek Documentation and Monitoring Centre for Drugs (EKTEPN) is to collect and process official representative data on every aspect of the drugs phenomenon in Greece. It acts as the Greek REITOX Focal Point of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), as it is one of the National REITOX Focal Points which operate in the 27 Member States of the European Union, Norway, the European Commission and the candidate countries. The EMCDDA was established in 1994 (Regulation 1920/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council) and it is based in Lisbon. Its mission is to provide reliable and comparable information on every aspect of the drugs problem and to coordinate efforts to reduce drug supply and demand. The team had prepared a highly thought-provoking and in depth presentation on the drug and alcohol situation in Greece and the work that they do. It seems that the issues are very similar to the UK, but they have been particularly affected by the issues with the Greek economy. Manina Terzidou (the Head of Focal Point) and her colleague Ioulia Bafi also arranged meetings for us with OKANA (a Greek organisation very similar to Phoenix Futures) and Sotia Makaroni (from the Prevention Centre of the Municipality of Kifissia).
OKANA – the organisation against drugs, were the team that we met with after Focal Point. This is a government funded organisation that helps individuals with addictions to manage their physical and mental health. It works much like a 'drop-in' centre and they provide a GP service, blood testing and dentistry. As well as OKANA we also met with Kethea – a therapy centre for dependent individuals. OKANA and Kethea together combine a lot of the work that Phoenix Futures and Foundation 66 provide to equivalent vulnerable individuals in the UK. We were given a badge from OKANA with their recent promotional material which reads "Addicted to Life!"
This is just a brief outline of our time in Athens . We found the experience extremely valuable to work we do in schools and has certainly enriched the scope of knowledge that we can impart to school students in the UK. Furthermore, we relished the opportunity to share the fantastic work that everyone contributes to throughout Phoenix Futures. And we do hope that our new partners in Athens will venture to the UK in future to see the amazing work that we all do!
International School of Athens - http://www.isa.edu.gr/
Focal Point - http://ektepn.gr/en/About/Ti_einai_to_EKTEPN/index.htm
Kethea - http://www.kethea.gr/en-us/home.aspx
CEDA – twitter: @CEDAproject