Charity Awards 2024

Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs

Supporting young people affected by a family member’s substance abuse

Scottish Families’ Routes programme works with young people aged 12-26 who are living with the impact of a parent or family member’s substance use, in East and West Dunbartonshire.

Scottish FamiliiesIt was launched in April 2019 after the charity recognised that its existing support was designed more for adults, and that many other services tended to support younger children.

The charity found that most initiatives focusing on young people, alcohol, and drugs, targeted young people’s own substance use, and do not recognise or address the impact of others’ substance use upon them.

Routes has been co-produced with young people and offers intensive one-to-one support, peer connection and practical help to overcome the poverty, chaos, stigma and isolation that they face.

Initially Routes launched with two staff, however it soon became overwhelmed with referrals. Over its five-year lifespan it has secured additional funding to grow the team to five full-time employees, so that it now works with 137 young people. Some 171 have been supported since launch.

The team learned along the way that the programme needed to be highly flexible, long-term, and that they needed to build snacks and hot meals into every meeting.

Routes has also moved to open-ended support, with young people able to stay with the programme for as long as they need to. This flexible approach has been a very successful aspect of its work, and now 76% of the programme’s over-16s are at college, on a training course, or in employment.

Young people who have been supported by Routes say they feel more connected to their peers, report greater knowledge about drugs and alcohol, and have goals to aspire to.

Last year the Scottish government allocated funding to roll out the programme across Scotland. Grow Your Own Routes will see Scottish Families work with six partner charities to create their own Routes projects in different areas, ensuring that co-production with young people remains at its heart.

Charity Awards judge Anne Fox, chief executive of Clinks, described the entry as “an honest and open application chronicling an organisation’s successful work to better understand and meet the needs of an underserved group of its beneficiaries”.

She added: “Everyone involved should be congratulated. This programme’s development is co-production at its best – they listened to and learned from young people and trusted that process. The outcomes for young people are really positive, and the trust young people have in the programme and service is obvious.

“The programme now being rolled out nationally and being redesigned for replication is testament to its sustainability and scalability and value for money.”

OSCR Reg no. SC034737