Keep Calm and Talk

By   /  08/10/2018  /  Comments Off on Keep Calm and Talk


Helping parents know what to say to teenagers about cigarettes, alcohol and drugs 


Keep Calm and Talk: A new campaign focusing on what young people want to hear from their parents when it comes to smoking, drinking and drug taking

The number of young people smoking, drinking and using drugs in the city is higher than the national average. A new campaign aims to encourage parents and carers to talk more with each other to help them question and challenge the misinformation and myths that are out there on these things. It can be difficult to talk about the harm caused by these substances and the campaign equips parents with facts and ideas to help them talk calmly with their teenagers and support their lifestyle choices.

Developed by YMCA Right Here and Brighton & Hove City Council, Keep Calm and Talk is all about having more conversations at the right times for the good of all.


Brighton and Hove has some of the highest rates of cannabis use, smoking and alcohol consumption among young people in the country. In 2014/15, according to the What about YOUth survey, 15% of 15 year olds in Brighton and Hove currently smoke, which is the highest rate in England. Almost a quarter (24%) have tried smoking cannabis and 14% have smoked cannabis within the last month – again the both the highest rates in the country. Alcohol rates do not fare much better, with 11% of 15 year olds drinking at least once a week, the joint third highest rate in England.

Engaging in harmful behaviours can have knock-on consequences now and in later life, with some young people at risk of developing severe and enduring substance misuse problems that continue into adulthood.

The ideas for this campaign came from listening to the views, experiences and needs of parents and carer’s and their young people.


Parent from Focus Group: “I think the hardest thing is starting the conversation. Kids are scared to talk to parents about drugs and parents are scared to say the wrong thing to kids about drugs. What parents or carers need are facts.”


Parents have said they feel pressured into allowing early drinking or smoking because they believe other parents are more permissive. This is not always the case and talking about the issues can prevent feelings of isolation and uncertainty, and instead enable joined up responses and consistent messaging.


To find out more about the campaign, and to access information and support to have your own conversations, visit


Cllr Karen Barford said: “Whether these conversations take shape face-to-face, as a WhatsApp group or email thread, we want to encourage people to talk and feel more confident in their understanding of the complex issues involved. We’re trying to help parents and carers to explore, agree and stick with clear expectations and boundaries with their young people on smoking, alcohol and drug use. Ultimately this is about keeping our young people safe and prepared for the future.”


Shaila Sheikh, Project Manager at YMCA Right Here, said: “This campaign came about because parents and carers are very worried about some of the things they see and hear about across our city. They have said they would like more information and ideas on how to talk with, and support their young people. Young people have told us that when parents listen and talk with them and not freak out it can be a really powerful way to stem risky and harmful behaviours.’


Feeling tongue-tied? Try a few of the campaign’s conversation starters:


‘I need you to help me understand what’s going on as I’m worried.’

‘Can you try and tell me what’s going on?’

‘Would you know what to do if you or your friend has taken something and seems unwell?’