A charity in Northamptonshire has been awarded a £240,000 grant to help fund its work to raise awareness of the dangers of so-called ‘legal highs’.
Solve It has been awarded the cash by the Big Lottery Fund and the windfall will help support its work to tackle the growing problem of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) over the next three years.
Nationally, there has been a sharp increase of the use of legal highs among young people, the number of people treated in hospital and also the number of deaths linked to NPS.
Feedback and discussions with young people, teachers and professionals in Northamptonshire highlighted concerns about drug use and also a lack of understanding and education about the dangers of legal highs.
Kevin Shapland, chair of trustees at Solve It, said: “In an environment of financial uncertainty for many charities this award from the Big Lottery Fund recognises the successful work previously undertaken by the charity in respect of new psychoactive and volatile substances.
“The funding will allow our staff the opportunity to deliver education and awareness of the issues to a wider audience in Northamptonshire providing them with the relevant information to make informed choices.
“It is coincidental, but totally appropriate, that the announcement of this award coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week as the growing use of New Psychoactive Substances continues to place increasing pressures on our Health Service providers and Mental Health Services.”
The money will be used to set up a new project, called 3-2-1 Decision Making, aimed at addressing the problems caused by young people taking legal highs.
The project will give young people a better understanding of the influences affecting their decision making process while parents will be more informed, and confident to engage with their children to tackle issues such as legal highs.
The target is to reduce the percentage of young people trying NPS in Northamptonshire from 23 per cent to 15 per cent by the end of 2018.
Jolene Watson, project co-ordinator at the charity based in Kettering, said: “The financial stability provided by this award will also act as a platform for us to develop our services further and work with other partner agencies to assist in making Northamptonshire a safer place.”
The funding has helped to secure Solve It’s future and the charity is now looking for new trustees or volunteers who can help take it forward. The charity is particularly keen to attract professionals with experience of fundraising, marketing, HR, finance, project management, website development and graphic design.
Solve It is also keen to speak to people between the ages of 16 and 25 to get their experience of legal highs. To get in touch, call the Solve It team on 01536 414690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.