This year People and Drugs Ltd is celebrating its 20th Anniversary and next year is 20 years since Silx Teen Bar opened so with that in mind we thought we would take a trip down memory lane and give you all a brief History of Silx from the beginning….
In September 1995 a group of local Blyth based professionals made up of the Health service, Social Services, Blyth Valley Council and Ridley High School Youth Service along with parents and ex substance misuse users were very concerned with the escalating number of young people aged 15 -25 who were dying from using Heroin and Methadone in the Blyth area. This group came together and acquired the name of People and Drugs (the parent company of Silx Teen Bar)
In the same year, the BBC ‘Panorama’ programme was planning to base an episode on Blyth and the escalating number of deaths in the area. The programme although was very negative about Blyth, resulting in the label of ‘Drug capital of the North East’ actually raised the issue of the problem, resulting in the education sector, the health sector and Blyth Valley Council launching ‘The Drug Reference Group’, which looked into the problem and tried to find solutions. One of the people who saw the Panorama programme was Kevin Keegan, the then manager of Newcastle United who contacted the programme and offered his support. The support consisted of a series of football matches between Newcastle United, Blyth Spartans and Gateshead with in excess of £250,000 being raised towards the finding solutions to the issue.
The funds were used to support the work of People and Drugs and also put towards the creation of Escape Family support, with both organisations still in existence and thriving in the Blyth area today. With their share of the funds in 1996 People and Drugs acquired the lease of Silx an unused building in Blyth Market place which was once a wine bar. With the support of Ridley High School Youth Service, People and Drugs set up youth provision in order to offer diversionary projects and activities for the young people of Blyth and ‘SILX TEEN BAR’ was born.
Over the last 20 Years Silx has offered varied provision and delivered projects including:
- Street work working with young people who do not access youth provision
- Sexual Health C card drop in’s
- International Exchanges to Germany & France
- Residential opportunities.
- Hundreds of trips and excursions introducing young people to places out of the Blyth area.
- Art, football, music, fashion, cooking projects and activities.
- Health projects
Over the past five years the organisation has been awarded National and Local awards including:
- POSBO Award for ‘work in promoting a positive image of young people’
- High Sheriff Award for ‘Activities and contribution in enhancing the life of the community’
- Northumberland Local Heroes Award
- Homes for Northumberland ‘Special Achievement Award’ and ‘Going the extra mile award’
- Best of Northumberland ‘Safer Communities Award’
- Northumberland’s Finest Awards for ‘Group Impact’ and ‘Participation Work’
- Projects with Pride ‘Large Project with Pride’
Currently and for some time we are the largest youth provider in Northumberland, with thousands of young people benefiting from participation in projects and activities and individual youth worker support.
At the present time we deliver 4 evening sessions a week for young people 11-19 and three day sessions working with young people 16 -25 on every issue of employability.
I am sure you will agree that the last 20 years have been amazing for Silx with lots of developments and changes over the years. Silx is still a vital resource for young people and their families in Blyth and we are very much looking forward to another successful 20 years!