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NDPA  – A  BRIEF  HISTORY

         

34 years of promoting good practice in Prevention.

  

In 1983, after conducting international desk research on drug policy, workers in the CEDAR Drug Project (Hounslow, West London) convened a founders group focused on drug prevention. The spur was the recognition that whilst the UK provided exemplary services in counselling, treatment and rehabilitation, very little was being done on drug prevention.

Invitees to the group included senior workers from Life Education Centre, Clouds House, Ben’s Friends, Yeldall Manor, Hope UK,  and Dr Challoner’s School. The founders committed to launching what became known as the National Drug Prevention Alliance, under the directorship of one of the CEDAR project workers, Peter Stoker. The NDPA formed links with like-minded organisations and individuals in Britain and Northern Ireland. Funding was sought, and a project team of 5 workers was established, in part involving gap year students. In due course substantial funds were awarded by the National Lotteries Charities Board, later supplemented by grant-maintained trusts such as the Wates Group.  An earlier seed-funding grant had come from the Home Office Drug Prevention Initiative.

With time, additional bodies joined with the Alliance. To date the Alliance has pursued its aims for some 34 years, in various settings. 12-week long Parenting Skills courses were delivered to a large number of groups, whilst teacher training courses were conducted in primary schools to more than 300 teachers. Perhaps the most notable course was named Teenex – a peer-led prevention programme; designed by CEDAR Director Ann Stoker, Teenex involved 5-day intensive residential courses (‘lock-ins’). Teenex was so successful that several other countries – specifically Portugal, Poland, Germany and Bulgaria hosted NDPA trainers in each country, then delivered Teenex to their own populations. Teenex was continued long after the training team returned to the UK, most notably in Germany which is still running Teenex after some 17 years. In 2001 Teenex won a First Prize in an international competition in Stockholm for IT-based projects. NDPA was also honoured in 2004 to receive an International Award by the PRIDE international prevention organisation, for its services to prevention.

NDPA has always focussed on disseminating information as widely as possible, initially by printing and despatching thousands of documents. Eventually it became apparent that technology and costs were overtaking us. Our print runs could only reach so many, and funding in general was becoming harder to come by – especially for a ‘hard copy’ approach. The bold decision was therefore made to concentrate the work via the website – www.drugprevent.org.uk  – this was enhanced and expanded to deliver information more economically. The site is visited by more than 100 bodies internationally. In 2016 this ‘core website’ (which is predominantly of a technical nature) was supplemented by the launch of a new website ‘Pinpoints’- www.pinpoints.org.uk – which is written to be more accessible by parents and other lay readers.

At the professional level NDPA has authored and presented a substantial body of technical papers, either through publication in printed works or by presentation at important conferences – a typical example was a prevention conference in Rome, where NDPA were charged with producing and delivering a synopsis of all the papers delivered, with the synopsis presented in front of the Papal Nuncio.  A related major commitment has been contact with the media, and NDPA is recognised as an organisation that ‘punches above its weight’ in the coverage it obtains, either in printed media or in broadcast sources. Initially this work was done by the Director, but in recent years the function of media spokesman has been taken on by David Raynes, formerly an Assistant Chief Investigations Officer with HM Customs. David has also taken over most of the work related to government bodies – over the years NDPA has presented to such as the BMA, United Nations, the House of Lords, the Police Foundation, the Home Affairs Select Committee and several others. (Copies of most of these papers and presentations can be found on this website under Papers).

UK drug policy has remained firmly in its traditional stance of discouraging drug misuse and encouraging healthy lifestyles, despite the regrettable current diversion of American drug policy at State level into legalisation of marijuana, either for so-called medical use or for so-called recreational use. NDPA has continued to be active in the drug policy and practice sectors, despite shortcomings in funding – in comparison the flagship liberalisation organisation, DrugScope, has recently gone into liquidation.

 

 prevent image from about us page NDPA is far from being able to rest on its laurels as yet.  Good work has resulted in steadily reducing the prevalence of drug abuse, and in particular the reduction in tobacco use can be seen to be founded in good prevention practice.  But on the wider front the majority of the population still do not understand what constitutes Prevention, do not recognise its potential and consequently do not commit to it.  A desirable future would see each sector of the community engaging with Prevention, and thus achieving the social and economic benefits that even today are there for the taking.

 

 

 

 

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