‘Ambassador’ for drugs services nominated for national award

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[from Londra Gazete]

‘Ambassador’ for drugs services nominated for national award

21 A?ustos 2008 17:26

HARINGEY’s Turkish Speaking Community Worker, Idris Akansu has been nominated for a top national award for his ‘outstanding’ work in tackling drugs across North London.

The nomination is in relation to ‘The Tackling Drugs Changing Lives Awards 2008’, launched by Home Office Minister, Vernon Coaker, in July with the aim of recognising people on the front-line of drugs services.

Debbie Morgan, Drugs Advisory Services in Haringey (DASH), who nominated Akansu, said: “In terms of sheer enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance, Idris always goes the extra mile. He is an excellent ambassador for the services and always “mucks in”, sometimes working very long hours.”

There are two awards available, one for an individual and one for a team, each offering £10,000 for their organisation to spend on their prevention or treatment of drugs misuse. Mr Akansu expressed his surprise at being nominated for the individual National Tackling Drugs Changing Lives Award – apparently unaware of the special nature of the work he does.

As one of the pioneers of the Turkish Cafe Project, an outreach programme aimed at meeting the Turkish speaking community  where they congregate, he is often taking his substance misuse message to where it may not normally be heard.

He said: “I suggested the idea for a year long project, having seen it work elsewhere. It’s a good way of getting information to people and reducing the stigma around these subjects, particularly men.

“We are here to listen and talk. This is the way forward, talking to people in their own yard. We really want to give people alternatives. Projects like this can breathe new life into Green Lanes, (Haringey and Hackney).”

Mr Akansu previously revealed to the London Turkish Gazette that he believes the mindset, often apparent in the Turkish community, of abstinence is often an unrealistic goal and feels that a ‘don’t do it’ approach can be patronising, which can lead to increasing stigma around drugs and sex issues. Such an approach is unhelpful according to Akansu who believes that empowering the client and helping them realise their own choices is the way forward.

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