On Wednesday 8th June 2022, we held our annual National Student, Drug and Alcohol Conference virtually with attendees across all four nations and from 41 organisations including student unions, universities, schools, police forces, students and community organisations. Following the conference, we received some excellent feedback, such as “the organisation of this event was exemplary” and “there was a good range of speakers, interesting sessions and topics”.
The conference offered attendees the chance to engage with experts, learn about drug and alcohol use in the student population and share good practice, giving attendees a number of key points and meaningful actions to take back to their institution.
Respondents informed us which sessions they found most beneficial, with one stating that “The Drink Spiking session was really useful. The issue of spiking was at the forefront of the work our institution under took last year. It was great to see the work that was being done by others across the UK and to be able to discuss how we might be able to link in” and another commenting that “The best session for me personally was about organising city-wide safety campaigns. I sit within a community-university partnership with a focus on developing and delivering city-wide campaigns, so this session was most relevant to the work that I do”. Another commented on the session that covered the law and moving toward a drug harm reduction approach, saying that “this is a concern that I had around putting the university into a vulnerable position as we move from a zero tolerance approach to one of harm reduction, and this session helped to allay some of those concerns”. These comments highlight the valuable insights into these topics that came about as a result of the conference and the motivation of attendees to apply their learnings, best practice and knowledge of what others are doing, to their own work and institutions.
There was an interesting agenda set with a range of topics covered, view the agenda here. Within each of the nine sessions that took place during the day, each speaker provided engaging and invaluable information. As a result, a number of points that attendees could consider were offered with the possibility of leading to meaningful action.
Following the conference, attendees recognised that “We are all in this together” and that “we all face similar challenges and sharing good practice is only going to benefit us all” and this is something that we at SOS-UK would strongly agree with.
Our annual conference was a huge success and well received by attendees, however we know that there is still more work to do. Through our programmes in addition to the work that universities, student unions, police, student and community organisations and others are doing, we can continue to support students to develop the knowledge, awareness, skills and ability to manage their substance use, seek help when needed, and work to protect and develop their wellbeing. We recognise the need to engage with and encourage universities, student unions and more to continue their work in this area and share best practice as has taken place in this conference, so we hope to see you at the National Student Drug and Alcohol Conference 2023.