Renfrewshire Council

Children's Services colleagues earn coveted spot at national awards

Health and wellbeing development officer, Fiona White talks about the ground-breaking alcohol and drugs education resource that secured their nomination.

Close up image of Fiona White from Children's Services
Fiona White
Congratulations to our colleagues in children's services for reaching the finals at this year's Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) Excellence Awards. Their work developing an innovative education resource on alcohol and drugs is a big step forward and is one of three finalists in the 'Tackling inequalities and improving health and wellbeing' category.

Health and wellbeing development officer, Fiona White, in partnership with I Am Me Scotland—a Renfrewshire based charity that helps build safer communities—played a key role in the development of the Alcohol and Drugs Awareness Action Pack for children and young people.

We spoke to Fiona to learn more about the project. Here's what she told us:

"I'm proud of our education resource and I'd love all my council colleagues to know what it's about and where they can access it. It's so important because we know that educating people about the dangers of alcohol and drugs is vital. But as a teacher, I know how challenging that can be.

"Scotland has the highest number of drug-related deaths in Europe. It's a tragic statistic and the recent data, shared by National Records Scotland, tells us that, although we've made some progress in last few years, we're still the most affected country in Europe and our numbers have more than quadrupled since 1996.

"To help turn this around, we have worked together with our I Am Me colleagues to take on board the insights of those working in education as well as children and young people. We used what we learned to create a resource that is effective in meeting their needs, with digital technology, relatable characters and authentic language and scenarios to make it relevant and impactful.

"The interactive features help streamline lessons so teachers can focus on facilitating important discussions. Kids love that they can identify with the characters and reconnect with them as they move through different stages in school. Our secondary pupils particularly love the 'My Life' library which shares stories of real people and helps combat the stigma of addiction."

So far, the Alcohol and Drugs Awareness Action Pack has been used across NHS Scotland, by our partners the Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership, the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside Police and Police Scotland among others.  It has also been accessed by all councils in Scotland with some like Inverclyde, Perth and Kinross, and Dumfries and Galloway, reaching out to Fiona and her team for further information and support.

Fiona commented: "After working with more than 800 local people to build the resource, it's wonderful to see the far-reaching impact it's now having. We shouldn't be keeping these conversations confined to schools. They should be happening in our homes and in our communities."

Fiona said the team are "are absolutely delighted" to reach the COSLA Excellence Award Finals and said, "the judging panel seemed blown away by the resource and keen to raise awareness about it."

The Alcohol and Drugs Awareness Action Pack has been shared with our teachers through online sessions, the Personal and Social Education Conference and our Children's Services Health and Wellbeing newsletter.

It's available for anyone to access through registering with the I Am Me Scotland website  where you can find various educational resources developed by our children's services team. Fiona recommends the parent's section for colleagues with kids. You can also find the resource and lots of other useful information and insights on the Health and Wellbeing blog that Fiona publishes online.

About the awards

COSLA is the national association for the 32 councils across Scotland. Each year the COSLA Excellence Awards "recognise the great work, talent and innovation across our councils and the exceptional people who deliver for our communities every day of the year".

This year over 200 applications were submitted for consideration by the COSLA judging panel and Renfrewshire Council is one of three finalists in the category for 'Tackling inequalities and improving health and wellbeing' alongside Fife Council for their 'Implementing regulate, relate, reason in education' project and Falkirk Council for their work on 'Libraries for wellbeing'.

We wish Fiona and all our Children's Services colleagues the very best of luck at the awards ceremony on Thursday 28 September.

Published on Thursday 7 September 2023