KIKIT Co-ordinator Mohammed Ashfaq
Kicking the habit with KIKIT
By Patricia Hoskins
Sparkbrook has been a major drugs hotspot in the city for several years. A unique project in the area is helping to tackle the problems and support users to kick the habit. Watch a special video feature about KIKIT.
Crack cocaine and heroine
With the continuing rise of ASBOs, violent gun and knife crime in cities across the UK, should more time and resources be spent addressing a root cause of these problems?
Drug issues are especially having a big impact on communities across Birmingham.
Community drugs project KIKIT is aiming to address the rapidly growing problem of drugs and drug related crime in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.
Gladstone Road, Sparkbrook
Tackling drug problems in Sparkbrook
KIKIT project co-ordinator and outreach drugs worker, Mohammed Ashfaq from Sparkbrook is also an ex-drugs addict. Because of his own experiences he is able to understand the problems substance mis-users, their families and carers face.
Mohammed (also known as Ash) helped set up the KIKIT project 18 months ago with the help of a small team of volunteers. The community project offers a full range of services for drug addicts and substance mis-users in the local area helping them on the road to recovery.
Ash explains: “Sparkbrook has had a big drugs problem for several years now and no-one has really been addressing the issues in the correct way.
Ash and ex-addict Layga
“Working together with the Birmingham Drug Action Team (DAT) KIKIT has now brought treatment providers and their services into the area to help tackle the problems.
“It’s getting a lot better now but there was a time when there would be groups of lads on hard drugs walking around the area being a nuisance and drug dealers hung around on street corners, but it’s not as blatant now.”
Breaking the cycle
“The area is still a hotspot for drugs in Birmingham it’s the main area in the city where the majority of drug dealing goes on. There are also alcohol issues, antisocial behaviour and gang related crime in the area.
"There's a lot of issues going on in Sparkbrook with a lot of mixed emotions in the community. All these combined issues are causing big problems.
KIKIT - tackling drugs in Sparkbrook
“A lot of the youths in the area have nothing to do with there time so are turning to drugs. KIKIT are there to help break that cycle.”
Improving the quality of life in Sparkbrook
The small outreach team of drug workers based at the Ashiana community project on Grantham Road in Sparkbrook run a drop in service, one to one support, a fast track referral service for treatment and a user group support network. The project also sign posts clients to other beneficial services across Birmingham.
KIKIT was set up to support individuals, families and carers of substance misusers living in Sparkbrook and the surrounding areas. Because of the culturally diverse communities in the area being culturally sensitive and multi – lingual is a very important part of the support KIKIT offer.
Sparkbrook streets - the drug dealers playground
Making a difference in our community
Roshan has been volunteering with KIKIT for 18 months as a drug outreach worker. Having lived around the drug problems in Sparkbrook for many years; working at KIKIT gives Roshan the opportunity to help make a difference in his community.
“Growing up in Sparkbrook I’ve seen the severe drugs problem in the area, that’s what encouraged me to work on the project. KIKIT is the only accessible drugs project in the Sparkbrook area.
“I work with the ex-user group who are people that are clean but still have many of the drug related problems.
“I also do outreach work going out on the local streets, approaching people asking them if they need help and bring them back to the project.
“Because of the drug problem in this area it’s not hard to find people that are using them. It’s not something that’s hidden away.
KIKIT volunteer, Roshan
“Being from the local area myself I wanted to do something to help my community.”
Behind closed doors
The Asian community make up 70-80% of KIKIT’s clients. However there’s a strong culture of denial in the community that there is actually a drugs problem. Places of worship and the families are very reluctant to admit the problems in the area. Asian women in the community are especially harder to reach.
Female volunteer outreach drug worker Zeena Takbar offers support and advice to female substance mis-users and mothers and carers that have been affected by drugs.
Zeena says: “Wherever you go in Sparkbrook you can see there's a problem. Even on my road there is drug dealing going on all the time and one of my friends died from using drugs."
KIKIT volunteer - Zeena Takbar
Woman to woman
“Asian women are harder to reach because they don't like to share their problems with anyone. They are taught to believe that family values are important and having a drugs problem in an Asian family is seen as a bad reputation.
“Our services are very confidential; we are professional and helpful. We offer a drop in service where the women can talk to other women facing the same problems.
“The whole KIKIT team are passionate about making Sparkbrook a better place to live. It’s about getting the users off drugs and into a good clean environment, obtaining jobs, education and a better life.”
Getting my life back with KIKIT
The Ashiana Community Project was set up in 1996 by project co-ordinator Mike Parker, with an aim to provide advice and information on services including child care, education, training and support for women, families and elderly residents in the area.
Many users of KIKIT have especially benefited from the user support group service. Having the support from the volunteers and other members of the group has helped other drug users stay on the road of recovery and get their lives back.
Layga has been addicted to heroine for 23 years and says coming to KIKIT has really helped him get his life back on track.
He says: “I’m at the early stages of my recovery, but having a support network like KIKIT has really helped me a lot.
“I just needed help and support to stop”
“When I started taking drugs 23 years ago I wished there was a project like KIKIT to help me, but there was no where to turn to and get help. Hospitals and day care centres have waiting lists of up to two months and then they just give you a methadone prescription.
“I needed somewhere I could go for support and help to get clean from the drugs.
“KIKIT has helped me to see how my day to day drug use was affecting myself, my family and everyone around me and it’s given me a bit more of a structure in my life.”
James - Kick volunteer and ex-addict
Stop drugs usage and cut crime
James is also an ex-crack cocaine and heroine addict. With the help of KIKIT he is now clean and is volunteering with the project to help others kick their addictions.
He explains: “Helping people to stop drug usage will reduce a lot of problems in our communities.
"When we help someone get off drugs that’s someone walking down the road that hasn’t been mugged, a house that’s not been burgled. The area will not have to put up with drug dealers standing on street corners selling.”
Watch James talks about his ex-addiction to drugs in a video feature below.
Kick volunteers, Zeena and Christine
An uncertain future for KIKIT
As with many community projects across the city, KIKIT’s future depends entirely on external funding. They are moving to a new larger location on the Stratford Road which will enable them to provide even more services to people in the area.
KIKIT co-ordinator Mohammed Ashfaq explains: “We really need KIKIT in Sparkbrook because there are no other services in the area our community can go to for help and support for drugs and substance misuse.
“The issue isn’t just helping people kick the habit; you have to also keep them off the drugs and give them an alternative to occupy their time.
“More needs to be done to educate our communities about drugs. The problem should no longer be hidden and swept under the carpet.
Farm Road, Sparkbrook
There’s a bleak future for our young people in the Sparkbrook area if more isn’t done about it.”
Watch a special video feature about KIKIT
In a special video feature the KIKIT team talk more about the drug issues in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham and how their project is aiming to help tackle the problems.
Ashfaq talks about the role of the project and ex-drug users Layga and James explain how the KIKIT project has helped them.
Watch the special KIKIT video reports below.
23 Grantham Road
Tel no: 0121 687 6767
last updated: 22/04/2008 at 14:28
Have Your Say
Is drugs a problem in the area where you live? What would you like to see done about it?
Kay.Bee & Ladyde G