Hope UK Survey of Christian Youth Workers on Young People And Drug Use

Most Christian youth workers believe that the young people they work with are using drugs – but crucially, they don’t feel equipped to have conversations with them around drug use.

A survey conducted at the National Youth Ministries Weekend in November 2023, by Christian drug education charity, Hope UK, suggests that church youth workers are aware that there is a problem but do not feel confident to address it.

Top of the list of drugs they suspect young people are using, are alcohol and vapes, closely followed by cannabis, tobacco and nitrous oxide. This mirrors recreational drug use amongst young people in the UK population generally.

Both employed youth workers and voluntary youth workers were invited to take part in the survey. The emerging picture showed that nearly 9 out of 10 youth workers thought that the young people they worked with were using drugs. Around two-thirds of those surveyed said they had discussed drugrelated issues with their young people on at least one occasion in the past year but fewer than half felt equipped to have the conversation. Of those who had not spoken to their young people, the main reason was that they felt unsure about how to broach the subject.

The survey also revealed that around three-quarters of those surveyed had not led any drug-related or life skill activities with their youth in the past year. Reasons for not doing so included a lack of knowledge and resources, and a need for better support and training in this area. Many youth workers were not aware of the existence of a drug policy within their church and nearly half said that their church did not have a policy.

The findings show that there is clearly a need for better support, resources and training to enable youth workers to support their young people who may be experiencing issues with problematic use, for example, nicotine-addiction from vaping. Given the right support, youth workers are in a unique position to be able to put in place protective factors that will help prevent their young people from experimenting with recreational drugs in the first place.

Hope UK’s CEO, Sarah Brighton said:

Good drug education is evidence-based. It’s about teaching young people life skills like making healthy choices or peer-resistance, alongside knowledge and accurate information. It’s about equipping them to have the right skills if they find themselves trying to navigate a tricky situation in relation to drugs. Youth workers are ideally placed to support young people in this.

Hope UK offers a wide range of resources to support youth workers – both in-person and online, including a two-day professional training course to equip youth workers to deliver drug awareness activities and sessions for their young people.

For more information visit https://hopeuk.org

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