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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 6 February 2006

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BROUHAHA International's Beatlife youth drumming orchestra is celebrating a £10,000 boost to its funds following a donation from Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank. The money will be used by the youth orchestra to employ additional teachers and buy more instruments to enable them to reach more young people in schools across Liverpool.

As one of the official sponsors of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture, and a supporter of local charitable organisations, Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank has pledged to provide ongoing support to Beatlife.

Beatlife was established by Brouhaha International in 2002 to bridge the gap between the community and professional arts. Its aim is to provide percussion and singing workshops to children and young people within the most deprived areas of Liverpool. To date more than 200 young people ranging from 6 years old through to teenagers have benefited and seen an improvement in their reading, numeracy and classroom behaviour.

Bill Sutton, Director of Operations at Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank said:- "Since Alliance & Leicester were introduced to Beatlife last year I have not stopped hearing people enthuse about the work they do. They are one of the best examples of a group that helps young people through the use of music. We hope this donation will help many more people within the local community."

Giles Agis, Executive Director of Brouhaha International said:- "Thanks to Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank, this is a fantastic opportunity for Brouhaha International and the children involved in Beatlife. This sponsorship allows us to continue to deliver outreach work, so that the Beatlife percussion ensemble can go from strength to strength."

Free drug testing kits for UK schools

THE 1st step in a drive to make free drug testing kits available to all UK schools and parents is now underway.
A UK supplier of instant home testing kits, Preventx, are giving thousands of their products to schools across the country to help tackle the growing numbers of drug abuse among children.

Schools are allowed to test pupils with parents’ consent if they have been suspected of taking and selling drugs, and in 2004, Prime Minister, Tony Blair gave his backing to heads who decide to introduce testing measures.  The Prime Minister was alarmed at the growth of drug-taking among teenagers with 1 in 3, 15 year olds telling a survey they had tried an illegal substance at least once.

Preventx director, Michelle Hart said:- “This is the first of what we hope to be many schemes that we are involved with that will help tackle school drug issues.  We supply a high percentage of our testing kits to public schools, but due to budget constraints, state schools sometimes cannot afford them. The government has to realise that something should be done to an already escalating problem.  We intend on supplying not only to schools but to parents also, so they can ease their own minds in the privacy of their own home. If children know they could be tested, it gives them an excuse to say ‘no’ to drugs.”

In January 2005, a random drug testing programme was introduced at the Abbey School in Faversham, Kent. Head teacher, Peter Walker said since introducing the testing programme, GCSE pass rates had increased and the school felt a safer environment.

Public Health Minister, Melanie Johnson said:- "It's vital that we make it easier for young teenagers to get tested for drugs. By offering this service in convenient locations such as in schools or in homes, it will make it easier to detect and prevent.”

On Wednesday 1 February an 11 year old schoolgirl from Glasgow was rushed into hospital after collapsing in school from smoking heroin. Teachers believed she had accidentally taken the drug but left them astonished when she admitted to have been smoking it regularly for the last 2 months.

Many people believe school drug testing policies can identify these types of problems before it is too late.

The free kits are available by calling Preventx on:- 01670 821 352 or go to
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