A Drug Education Forum has been launched with the aim of bolstering and providing assistance to the sector on a national level while advocating for high-quality drug education for young individuals.

Today, on February 20th, 2024, the Drug Education Forum (DEF) is officially launching. This initiative brings together drug education providers, educators, and practitioners from across the UK to uphold evidence-based standards, share best practices, and advocate for high-quality drug education for all young people.

The DEF is led by the Daniel Spargo-Mabbs (DSM) Foundation, a drug and alcohol education charity founded in 2014 by Tim and Fiona Spargo-Mabbs in response to the death of their 16-year-old son Daniel from taking ecstasy. The foundation aims to support young people in making safe choices and reducing harm by increasing their understanding of the effects and risks of drugs and alcohol.

The DEF has commitments from a wide range of individuals and organizations and is open to anyone working in the field, as well as stakeholders. Through membership, practitioners and providers will have access to expert speakers, the latest evidence, research, and resources, examples of best practice, and opportunities to connect with others working in the sector to improve outcomes for young people in relation to alcohol and other drugs.

The DEF is also guided by a steering committee chaired by Fiona Spargo-Mabbs and comprising of Emma Crawshaw (Crew 2000), Nick Hickmott (We Are With You), Charlotte Gordon (KIP Education), Ivan Ezquerra-Romano (Substancy), Helena Conibear (Talk About Trust), Paul North (Volteface), and Arda Ozbuckuku (Neurosight). This committee will provide expertise and oversight of the DEF, while a group of key advisors, including Prof Harry Sumnall, Prof Adam Winstock, Jason Kew, and Jamila Boughelaf, will supply strategic insights and guidance.

The launch of the DEF was marked by the release of a video highlighting the importance of drug education at the DSM Foundation’s tenth-anniversary event in Croydon. The DEF’s website is also now live, and an online webinar is scheduled for March 20th, 2024, featuring Prof Harry Sumnall as the keynote speaker. Prof Sumnall, a leading expert in young people’s drug use and prevention interventions, will be joined by other speakers who will share different models of drug education and harm reduction from across the UK.

Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, Director and Founder of the DSM Foundation, expressed her excitement for the launch of the DEF, saying, “We’re really excited to be launching this national community of practitioners and providers, committed to reducing the harm from drugs through effective, evidence-based drug education and harm reduction for all our young people. Working together, we can make the difference that’s needed to equip young people to manage safely the choices about drugs they will almost all, almost certainly, at some point face.”

Jason Kew, Senior Practice Lead at The Centre for Justice Innovation and Senior Drug Policy and former Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, also emphasized the importance of drug education, stating, “Education is prevention. Drug use occurs throughout every corner of society, it is crucial to enable access to the highest quality, evidenced, effective drug awareness and education for everyone who may need it. The world-leading experts within this forum will seek to develop, inform, and strengthen the evidence base for resources that are proven to keep people safe.”

Prof Harry Sumnall also highlighted the importance of evidence-based drug education, saying, “By fostering a sense of professional identity, sharing good practice, and advocating for evidence-based drug education, the Forum will help ensure that all young people get the high-quality drugs education they deserve.”

The DEF’s primary objectives are to uphold evidence-based standards and practice, provide regular briefings and updates, disseminate current information, evidence and research, and provide a voice for the sector by advocating for access to excellent, evidence-based drug education for all young people in the UK.

For more information about the DEF and how to sign up, visit their website at https://www.drugeducationforum.org.uk. The DSM Foundation’s website can also be accessed at https://www.dsmfoundation.org.uk/.

Derick is an experienced reporter having held multiple senior roles for large publishers across Europe. Specialist subjects include small business and financial emerging markets.

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