Crossing the language barrier;Drug Abuse

26th June 1998 at 01:00
Haringey, which has the largest Turkish community in London - making up 15 per cent of the borough's population - has its fair share of problems with drugs and alcohol. And Turkey is on one of the main supply routes of heroin to the UK, so this inevitably has an effect on the Turkish population of north London.

But local community workers realised their drugs education message was failing to reach everyone because it was all in English, so a special project was launched by the council and supported by Glaxo Wellcome, aimed at Turkish-speaking children and their parents.

School parents' evenings, one of the main routes the council's drugs education team uses to communicate with parents, are usually poorly attended. So it was decided to take the message directly to the community at "supplementary schools" held at the weekend by the Turkish community to give children extra language, cultural and religious teaching, and at a Turkish women's centre.

The initiative also involves publicity in local Turkish language newspapers and radio stations. A parents' guide to drug abuse, in Turkish, is being produced.

At the workshops, pupils and their parents are encouraged to discuss drug use. They are shown counterfeit samples of different substances and are given information on agencies providing help.

"We realised that all the material being produced for schools and the community was in English and the message just wasn't getting across," says Haringey drugs education co-ordinator Mike Davis. "The message is that some drugs are particularly harmful.

"We need to provide people with the skills to make their own decisions. If you provide accurate information they are less likely to experiment."

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