One of our amazing NCS Summer groups has been doing great things in tackling legal highs in Chesterfield.

When Team Change were asked why they chose this issue they said that they wanted to choose something that was directly affecting their generation and by speaking to the local police they decided on the use of legal highs as this is a widely unrecognised issue by the public. In Chesterfield it is a much bigger problem than many people including those in the team itself had realised ,Chesterfield is one of the most affected parts of the country when it comes to the use of legal highs and as a result of this the town centre has been branded a “no-go zone” by some local residents.

Team Changes next step after deciding to tactical legal highs was organising how to do so which through the NCS they had help and guidance for 2 weeks ,60 hours in total, which they dedicated to raises awareness in the community by creating leaflets , videos and a petition.  The petition they created started to gather momentum and collected over 12000 signatures. As a result of this they were able to gather feedback from the local community many of whom had been unaware of the problem which was on their door step. The team also learnt from the public that those who already had a pre-existing knowledge had been affected by it close to home.

One women’s story which really stood out them was about her brother who was currently suffering due to his legal high substance abuse and that for a long time he hadn’t received help and support however that has now started to change due to peoples growing awareness. She also commented on how she thinks he would have been unlikely to have started if they were illegal but due to them being legal he assumed they were safe.

Reflecting on what they had learnt from going out in the local community and the success of the petition they decided to change their aim from raising awareness but to going to the council and getting the use of legal highs banned in public.  As a result of reaching and surpassing the 1000 signatures need in Chesterfield for the petition to get a debate in the council chamber , this meant the team attended a council meeting which lead to a unanimous agreement from the council, the Councillors agreeing to review the petition in light of new changes in the law.

The team’s aim for the future is that in a years’ time it is widely recognised as a problem and that those in need aren’t just ignored and categorised as unruly teens but actually people in need of help and support. They are hoping that by moving the use of legal highs off the streets in it will help the local community feel safer and bring the community together to solve the problem together. The team hope that through greater education and making it socially unacceptable this will stop any future users taking it up.

In Chesterfield the issue of legal highs has reduced by proactive approach shown by this group of young people who have been extremely successful in raising the issue of legal highs, lethal highs as they have dubbed them , and what a marvelous way to see our young people in this town reacting to this sort of thing

Leader of Chesterfield Council, John Burrows

We are so proud and impressed with our NCS students who have tackled an important issue in a new and creative way. Team Change are creating real change within Chesterfield, which could save lives. They have shown what young people can achieve.

Jon Harper , CEO of Future Foundations