Mitch Winehouse, Amy’s father, has created a foundation in her name aimed at addressing the ever growing problem of addiction. The foundation is launching a five-year program that will bring recovering alcoholics and addicts into schools. The goal is to create a forum for young people to talk openly about issues related to substance abuse.
Mr. Winehouse believes that the British government is reluctant to make addiction education a compulsory facet of national curriculum, which may have helped his daughter before the problem got out of hand. Winehouse has taken it upon himself to bring the face of addiction into the school system.
"Just after Amy passed away we went to see the Department for Education and the Department of Health and we spoke to them about getting the drug and alcohol education on to the school curriculum, and they really felt there was no necessity for it," Winehouse said. "They felt there was adequate education on that subject in schools, but there isn't. There are very good, well-meaning people out there, but it's on an ad hoc basis and we decided that, rather than wait for the government to galvanize itself into some kind of action, we would take the first steps."
The program will be assessed by Harvard University over the five year period in order to determine its efficacy. Backed by £4.3m grant from the Big Lottery Fund, the program will go into 50 schools and reach 250,000 students. "I hope it makes people sit up and think," said the Big Lottery Fund England director, Dharmendra Kanani. "There is unbelievable brand value that is provided by the Amy Winehouse Foundation. It provides a real opportunity to win the hearts and minds of young people, because they can relate to someone from their living memory. It's very powerful."
Around 250 people in recovery will share their experience with students, conducting workshops that deal with self-esteem, peer pressure and risky behavior.
"The Department for Education felt that it was inappropriate that people in recovery should be delivering the message," Winehouse said. "They wanted the local policeman or the head nurse or the headmaster to deliver it. But they are totally the wrong people to deliver that kind of discussion. Kids wouldn't listen to them, and so we started formulating our plans about three months after Amy passed."