Students from across Surrey, get a hard-hitting lesson on the risks of underage drinking as part of an international programme reaching 135,000 students.

Students will watch a play about a group of friends who find themselves in trouble as a result of their misuse of alcohol. The performance is followed by an interactive workshop where pupils will be invited to probe the cast on any of the issues brought up during the play and explore the consequences portrayed by the actors.

This performance is part of ‘Smashed’, an alcohol education and awareness programme sponsored by Diageo and delivered by Collingwood Learning. This year sees the tour appear in 90 UK schools over 9 weeks.

Rt Hon Tom Brake, MP Carshalton and Wallington for : “Education works best when it is truly engaging and collaborative. We should not shy away from having a frank conversation with our young people about the issues which can affect their futures. As a result, I welcome the fact the Smashed programme has included Surrey in its UK tour to help pupils here find out about the grave issues underage drinking can cause.”

Mr Brake will be visiting Wallington County Grammar School, SM6 7PH from 8:40am-9:40am on Thursday 16th March Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley, said: “I am very pleased international alcohol-education programme Smashed is spending two weeks visiting schools in Surrey. I understand that the memorable dramatic performances by the Smashed team are proven to raise awareness of the risks of drinking. I am glad to hear pupils in my constituency will be able to partake in this opportunity, and indeed around the country.”

Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South said: “I commend the work that ‘Smashed’ is doing for school pupils in Croydon and across Surrey. Their project is well thought out and tackles the very big issues surrounding alcohol misuse. It is great that they are taking the initiative and teaching our young people about the potential dangers of alcohol before it’s too late.”

Rt Hon Anne Milton, MP for Guildford said: “It is important that young people learn about the devastating consequences of alcohol misuse and feel able to cope with the considerable pressures they now face as they approach their teenage years. I was very pleased that the ‘Smashed’ project recently visited a local school to raise awareness of this. It is vital that we have education programmes to teach our children through the projects and interactive workshops that projects like ‘Smashed’ deliver. These will have a positive effect for many young people.”

Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam: “ ‘Smashed’ tackles an important issue in an engaging way. The innovative and interactive way they deliver their message on the dangers of alcohol misuse is one that I am sure will remain with pupils in the years to come. It is great to see that ‘Smashed’ is being proactive in educating and empowering our young people to make good decisions.”

Chris Simes from Collingwood Learning, said: “We are thrilled to once again deliver the Smashed Project to schools in the UK. The powerful theatre piece and interactive workshop have been shown to significantly increase student awareness of the risks of underage drinking. The programme supports schools in delivering vital Personal, Social and Health Education. Thanks to the sponsorship we receive, the Smashed Project has become an international education movement; our goal is to break the culture of underage drinking and help young people develop responsible attitudes towards alcohol.”

Mark Baird, Head of Alcohol in Society, Diageo GB, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting ‘Smashed’ in its thirteenth year. The programme’s international expansion is testament to the pivotal role it plays in tackling underage drinking on a global scale. The use of dramatic performance and its interaction with students provides them with a powerful lesson on the consequences of alcohol misuse on themselves and others. What’s more, it equips them with the knowledge and understanding needed to make informed decisions about drinking or not drinking both now and later in life. Here’s to another successful year.”

‘Smashed’ was developed in consultation with young people and has been designed to engage with pupils in a different way to typical school lessons. It combines the use of drama with an interactive workshops to help young people understand the facts, causes, and consequences surrounding alcohol misuse and the risks of underage drinking.

The ‘Smashed’ Project is set to visit 12 countries over 12 months in 2017, with over 130,000 12-16 year olds being taught about the risks and potential consequences of underage drinking, in a captivating and engaging way.

Joining the list of countries to welcome ‘Smashed’ this year include the Philippines, China, Nigeria, Indonesia and Cambodia.

The UK is making progress to reduce levels of underage drinking. The number of boys and girls aged 8 to 15 that have reported drinking alcohol in 2015 is currently at its lowest level since records began. There is still work to be done however, with recent Government figures showing that young people are more likely to drink once a week as they enter their early teens, compared to before they reach adolescence. This is why ‘Smashed’ is targeting 12 to 16 year olds.

Submitted by Josh Chaloner