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Eye-catching Ella draws attention to alcohol misuse (06/02/12)
A certain lady is creating a bit of stir as the star attraction of a window display on Alness High Street.
Ella the tin can lady was created by young people working with The Highland Council’s Youth Action Team as an eye catching visual aid to help highlight the physical and psychological effects caused by the misuse of alcohol.
Ella’s tin body is made out of empty beer cans with represented various human organs – the brain made with a sponge, kidneys and heart with tissue paper and cardboard, veins made from drinking straws and hands made with rubber gloves. Young people have helped prepare written information on the impact that alcohol has on these parts of the body and clever visuals are used to highlight the recommended weekly alcohol limits.
The Youth Action Team, part of the Council’s Social Work Children and Families service, works with 12 – 18 year olds across the Highlands dealing with alcohol, drink and drugs misuse and offending issues. Working closely with schools, the police and other agencies, the team provide specialist intervention programmes aimed at addressing behaviours which are of concern.
Individual plans are drawn up for anyone referred to them and a wide range of support, from counselling to one-to-one sessions and group therapies are provided. The team also take part in Health Days and run preventative education sessions at secondary and primary schools.
Substance Misuse Officer Sue Caldwell said: “Alcohol misuse is a serious message that we are trying to get across to young people in an imaginative way that captures their attention and imagination. Visual aids are particularly effective, especially when dealing with anyone who has literacy problems. We are delighted that Ella has proved to be an effective way to raise important issues of alcohol and the damaging effects bing drinking has.”
Local Councillors Maxine Smith, Martin Rattery and Mike Finlayson came to see Ella and to find out more about the current work of the Youth Action Team. Speaking on their behalf, Councillor Finlayson said: “The Youth Action Service is a brilliant service bringing huge differences to young people and their families. Alcohol abuse, particularly among young people is a problem throughout our towns and villages. It was interesting to learn more about how individual action plans are draw up following a referral and the important role the service has in supporting schools and educating youngsters from an early age.”
Ella will soon be going on tour with plans underway to find another prominent High Street location for her in Caithness. The Alness based Youth Action Team plan to replace Ella with a feature on solvent abuse and are already hatching plans to make another eye-catching display. They are currently collecting empty aerosols such as hair sprays and deodorants so any donations will be gratefully received and can be handed in to Sue at 31 High Street, Alness.