The Kenward Trust supports those affected by addiction, homelessness and crime – and has helped more than 10,000 people to transform their lives and create a new future away from their addictions.
Its work includes residential rehabilitation at its idyllic headquarters in Maidstone in Kent – but it also works with schools on early education and interventions, delivers outreach work and offers support to those resettling back into the community.
The Kenward in the Community team works with our CAPs in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Snodland, and is often called out following alerts of anti-social behaviour, community safety concerns such as discarded syringes or other drug paraphernalia, vandalism and disturbances where drug and alcohol misuse is a factor.
The team has been busy during lockdown, when it’s not just anti-social behaviour that is an issue, but the very real safety hazard of young people gathering to share bottles, cans, cigarettes and drugs.
John Shanley, Kenward Trust Project Manager, says: “Parents are finding it more difficult to keep their older teenage children indoors – and the young people say it’s driving them mad being at home. So they are sneaking out to meet up with their friends and share alcohol and drugs. We go out and talk to them - keeping our distance! - and explain the danger of what they are doing. We try to get across that they are not only putting themselves at risk but could also spread the virus back to their families. We don’t lecture – we just explain – and once they understand the possible consequences they’ve been very receptive.”
Living in lockdown and in closer proximity may also have made young people’s drug and alcohol issues more visible to parents. The team has been responding to an increased number of calls from concerned parents, and now offers counselling and support to the young people via Zoom or Skype chats.
It’s also looking at new ways of increasing its work with schools in future. In normal times, it visits schools to deliver powerful messages to children from former residents who tell their personal stories about addiction, the way it impacted them and their families and the journeys they have been on to change their lives.
They hear about people like Andy, who struggled to turn his life around after being in prison, and Paula, whose addiction left her bringing her children up in the back of a car.
“These real-life stories raise awareness of the issues and consequences of drug and alcohol dependency. They show how the choices you make can affect not only your life but your family and the community where you live. They are very compelling sessions which the children really respect and take on board,” says John.
Now the Trust is hoping to raise funds to make a film documenting these kind of experiences which they can send out to all Kent schools and publish on the Kenward Trust website.
John says: “Lockdown has certainly been very challenging, but it’s shown us new ways of working for the future.”