Friday, 21 November 2008

Barnet Latest : Incentive scheme for Crackheads

Like most parents I'm really proud of my Kids. They are all really talented and bright. I was especially proud of my eldest daughter last week when she went along to receive a GLL grant from the Mayor, Councillor John Marshall at Copthall Leisure Centre. She is a swimmer and she came 2nd at National Swimming championships in Sheffield in the summer. At the ceremony, the mayor chatted with her and told her how impressed he was with her getting up 4 times a week at 4.30 am to train. In total she trains 9 times and swims approx 60 km a week. Later the same day, the Mayor bumped into her again as she'd won a Jack Petchey award and was receiving it at the Arts Depot in Finchley. Many other kids were also receiving awards and the Mayor rightly paid tribute to them.

I think that schemes such as the the GLL and Jack Petchey ones are a fantastic idea. They reward youngsters who excel and this promotes the concept of great role models. My own daughter was inspired in her swimming career by fellow Barnet Swimmer Sarah Price (now retired) who won gold at the Commonwealth games. If my daughter does as well as she hopes to, Sarah Price will be owed a large debt of gratitude.

So what has all of this got to do with crackheads? Well it seems that doing well in sport at a national level isn't the only way you can get a bit of sponsorship for your training program in Barnet. There is a report in this weeks Barnet Press that the Barnet Drug and Alcohol service is piloting a scheme for the NHS to provide up to £200 of gym vouchers for drug addicts (click HERE for link). Now while I thoroughly agree with the concept of rehabilitating drug users, you have to look at the wider picture. What message is this sending out to youngsters when they see a title in the Barnet Press "Incentive scheme to help drug users". Does it reinforce the message that they should be avoiding drugs? does it say to them "take drugs and you may ruin your life"? To me it says something completely different. It may well be that getting crackheads down the gym will help them rehabilitate themselves, but the concept of "rewards" in this context is repulsive to me. The article says

"Similar trials in the US have shown that participants stayed drug-free for twice as long as those not receiving incentives."

Thats all well and good, but what about the rest of us. What incentive do we get? Those of us who haven't fallen off the ladder. It seems that the harder you try, the less you get. There are millions of us who have gym membership, we all receive huge health benefits from it (lower blood pressure, less risk of heart attack). We all save the NHS a fortune, what incentive is there for us. If they want to have a free gym voucher scheme, open it up to everyone.

If you become a crackhead of a junkie, you loose it. That would be a fair scheme. This scheme stinks

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