DDN June 2017 DDN July2017 | Page 13

More on youth services at www.drinkanddrugsnews.com do a consultation via a survey, we actually sat down with them to create the brief that we gave to the developers. We showed the final designs to the young people and asked if they thought it closely met their brief, and it did.’ Creating a brand that could appeal across the age ranges covered by the services isn’t necessarily easy when that goes from as young as ten up to 25, not to mention parents, carers and the professionals who might direct young people towards the services. ‘But it seems to have been effective in meeting these diverse needs,’ he says. ‘Visual identity is important to young people, and hopefully this brand will appeal to young people universally and encourage engage ment where others may not have traditionally done so.’ In terms of the challenges facing young people’s services generally, while cannabis and alcohol are still the main reasons for presenting, the key issue is ‘not only the substances being used by young people who present, it’s the substances being used by young people who don’t present, and are at increased risk’, he states. This could be down to a lack of awareness around services generally, or the simple fact that they don’t see their substance use as an issue that needs addressing, he points out. The substances falling into that latter category include NPS, PIEDs and even ‘smart’ drugs. ‘This can be seen as more aspirational use to better themselves rather than engaging in any particular risk to their health. And where excessive alcohol and cannabis use is normalised in peer groups, or substances are used as a coping mechanism, there can be a reluctance to access services for support. Responding to this “hidden” risk is an important prevention agenda and the marketing of our services is a key factor here in terms of proactive engagement.’ To help achieve this, all of CGL’s services now adopt a ‘peripatetic’ model, he points out. ‘It’s very rare that we operate from premises where we’d expect young people to come to us to access support or any kind of intervention. We go out to young people to offer one-to-one appointments, but we also try to increase visibility by being in places young people are – not in an intrusive way, but just so we can engage and open up conversations in a more meaningful way around drugs and alcohol.’ This could be in-reach work with partner agencies where www.drinkanddrugsnews.com people could benefit from drug and alcohol advice, such as sexual health services, youth hostels, children’s homes, A&E, or schools and colleges, or via traditional street outreach in the community, the night-time economy, festivals or fresher’s fairs. There’s also a major focus on whole- family approaches and delivering interventions to parents, carers and wider family members. ‘For a lot of our young people their key protective factor is their parent or carer, so trying to involve them in any support that we offer the young person is in both their interests,’ he says. Perhaps crucially, the ‘we won’t judge you or tell you what to do’ message is as prominent on much of the literature as the description of the service or contact details. ‘When we’ve done consultations, often the reluctance to engage is because they may think they’re going to get a lecture or be told to stop using substances. They’re not always going to want to stop, and there might be young people who feel ashamed or guilty about their substance use, so that’s a barrier to accessing services. So we thought we needed to address that one head on in some of our key branding messages.’ However good the branding is, there’s little point unless it’s used properly, however. ‘We wanted to better understand how young people learn about our services – a lot are searching for information on substances or other support services online, so it’s about how we make this brand compatible with a real sound, comprehensive digital presence,’ he states. ‘The national rebrand is to create a recognisable brand for young people, raising the profile of CGL as a specialist provider of young people’s substance misuse support, information and advice,’ he continues. ‘Expert advice is important for young people – they told us that they’re more likely to engage if they know that the service or worker “really knows their stuff” – more than they might easily be able to access online. I think that consistent brand will help young people recognise it and trust it for up-to-date, accurate, relevant advice. There’s a whole host of information out there of varying degrees of quality, so that’s something that we’re really keen to do in terms of raising that profile and that trust and credibility among young people.’ DDN They... wanted images that ‘represented young people in general’ rather than pictures of the type of people generally perceived as ‘substance misusers’ June 2017 | drinkanddrugsnews | 13