A groundbreaking project called The Works, launched earlier this year to help young Islanders give up drink and drugs completely, is already producing positive results

It is an alarming fact that the Island has one of the highest rates in the country of young people being admitted to hospital with an alcohol or drug-related condition. It is estimated that there are 38,000 Island residents aged 16+ who drink alcohol in excess of the recommended daily limits at least once a week.

Of those, 21,000 adults are regarded as hazardous drinkers, consuming alcohol in excess of recognised sensible levels but are not yet experiencing harm, and 5,000 are harmful drinkers, consuming alcohol in excess of recognised sensible levels and are experiencing harm.

The Works was founded by the Isle of Wight Youth Trust, a charity of 28 years supporting young people on the Isle of Wight. The Works has its own steering group and entirely separate funding. It is an option that seeks to help people, in the 18-25 age group, stop their dependency on drugs or alcohol, especially those who have hit ‘rock bottom’.

John Elford is project manager of The Works, a project funded by the Lloyds TSB Foundation, The Big Lottery, the Royal Hotel Ventnor, and the IW Council, but in need of further financial support from Island businesses and individuals to ensure its future.

The Works’ major annual fund-raiser is the Isle of Wight Youth Trust gala dinner and grand auction which will be held on Friday, December 2, at The Royal Hotel, Ventnor. The event, now in its third year, has raised over £70,000, which in turn has helped secure Big Lottery funding of over £107,000, £45,000 from Lloyds TSB and ‘in-kind’ support from IW Council.

John put together The Works programme using different approaches to drug and alcohol treatment combined with educational theories and personal experience. He believes the comprehensive programme will help many people to find the life they want; a life that is no longer controlled by drink and drugs.

He said: “The Youth Trust wanted someone who could run a programme that is abstinence based. This was specifically set up to get people off drink and drugs. I was engaged to build a programme around that, which is a bit new and a bit different, incorporating more than just counselling.

“On the Island there was no specific targeted service for anyone with drug and alcohol problems between 18 and 25. We searched around the world to see if there were programmes for people of this age and found there are many which are tremendously successful – people with previous problematic drink and drug problems now clean and sober and contributing to society.

“We did not have any programmes on the Island that were saying to people ‘you can stop’. Once you are addicted you need to stop and regain control.”

Sponsors and guests at last year’s gala dinner at The Royal Hotel, Ventnor

The Works has offices in Newport, donated by the IW Council. The doors were opened to clients in March and the response so far has been very encouraging. Participants on The Works undergo an intensive 12-week programme which runs five-days-a-week, from 10am to 4pm. It is a big commitment, but even in the short time the programme has been in operation two young people have graduated.

John continued: “If someone has been using drink or drugs for years you cannot turn their life around without it taking some time. It is a full-time intensive programme for people who really are stuck and want to change their lives”

The Works is based on the popular 12-step programme but also incorporates other well researched and proven models of care. Anyone can self refer, but all Island GPs have been made aware of the programme. The intensive 12-week course also covers issues such as motivation, relapse prevention and anger management and once people complete the 12 weeks they can join a peer support group and stay in touch.

The annual gala dinner and grand auction at The Royal Hotel, Ventnor on December 2 promises to be a very special occasion not to be missed. Among the items up for auction will be a helicopter trip to Bath and a dinner party at home, prepared by a top Island chef.

The entire cost of the evening is met by The Royal Hotel and every penny raised goes entirely to The Works project. Tickets are £100 per person to include a three-course dinner and carefully selected wines. For anyone wishing to stay over there is a special rate of £65 per person which includes a leisurely breakfast – again with every penny going to the charity.

William Bailey, Director of The Royal Hotel, said: “It’s very easy to vilify young addicts but how does that help? Addiction is a real problem that ruins lives and affects society. I believe we need to provide these youngsters with an opportunity to tackle their addiction and give them the tools to lead a life free from drugs and drink. This is why we support The Works, a much-needed service on the Island.”

For more information visit www.theworksiow.co.uk or for gala dinner bookings contact The Royal Hotel. Tel: 01983 852186.