Friday, 14 July 2023: Musician and broadcaster Myleene Klass went back to school today (July 13) to join Trinity Academy students in Brixton to take part in a St John Ambulance’s street first aid programme ‘Young Responders’. The initiative teaches lifesaving first aid for real-life situations young people may find themselves in.
Spiking is very personal for the recently crowned I’m A Celebrity’s Ultimate Legend, who revealed she herself was spiked at the height of her Hear’Say fame, when she was 20.
Myleene, who has three children, joined year 10 and 12 students along with her teenage daughter Ava, 15, for street first aid demonstrations which used role play and hands on practice to learn vital lifesaving skills, including what to do for spiking attacks.
She said, “I’ve been in that situation when I had a drink spiked and people around me didn’t know what to do. You hear of these horror stories where people think ‘they’ve just had too much alcohol, it’s just a coming of age thing’ and they just put them to sleep on the sofa and they never wake up. No parents want that. No child obviously wants that. We teach our kids to look out for your friends, for each other, and this is a way of doing that.”
A YouGov poll of 2,000 people commissioned for the Independent, found a third of women and one in five men have been spiked or know someone who has. In some areas, there have been alarming hikes in reported spiking cases – in March Lancashire police statistics revealed a 300% rise in spiking cases since 2019.
Myleene, who has been first aid trained by St John Ambulance, and has supported the charity in raising the awareness of learning first aid before, said, “As a parent and mother of a teenager, I think it's our responsibility to arm them with facts. We want them to go out and have fun at parties and festivals – they've been locked away for long enough - but there has to be a balance. You want them to be safe and ultimately, if they or their friends get themselves into trouble, you want your child to know what to do.”
Her daughter Ava, who took part in the Young Responder session, said: “If someone is in danger at a social event, often it won’t be taken seriously because some young people don’t realise they are in actual danger and things can go wrong, very quickly. It felt helpful to learn what to do in that situation and to know I can go to St John for help, completely judgement free – that can be a main obstacle that gets in the way for my age group getting help.”
Targeting secondary school students and young adults aged up to 25, the Young Responders programme is being rolled out in areas of London, West Midlands and the North East with the goal of giving 15,000 young people street first aid skills by the end of the year.
Trinity Academy student Emanuele De Felice, 16, said, “I found the session good, learning about spiking was good as it's something that happens in real life and knowing what to do is beneficial to you, those around you as well as people you don’t know.”
St John Ambulance's advice on spiking:
- Keep safe by staying together when you’re out with friends.
- Pace yourself. Keep an eye on how much you and your friends are drinking.
- Many bars and nightclubs (and many universities) offer bottle ‘bungs’ like a cork which can prevent drinks being spiked – ask for one.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers, especially after you have had a few drinks.
- If you think you or a friend has been spiked, make sure to alert bar or event staff and the police, including reporting any suspicious behaviour. If you or your friend feel unwell or you have concerns, call 999 and get medical help, especially if there is a loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, or abnormal or impaired sight.
- If you have used recreational drugs or drunk a lot of alcohol, it’s important to tell your friends what you have taken and when and get medical help from event staff if you need it.
- Plan your route home—book taxis or download a rideshare app if trains or buses are not running.
- Most of all, look out for each other so you can end the night safely.
Trinity Academy teacher Jenny Lee Kearns, said, “We at Trinity Academy believe every child should have the knowledge to perform basic first aid. This is especially important considering the current knife crime rates and the relative deprivation in the area. After completing the sessions, our students are more prepared to step in if they were to witness a violent crime or injury.”
If you are a parent, carer, student or teacher in London, West Midlands and the North-East, interested in a Young Responder visit to your school, and meet our criteria, visit www.sja.org.uk/myleene.