Club must be allowed to keep its focus on community

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Once you’re a drug addict, it’s a long and hard road back – and it’s a journey that sadly, some fail to complete.

Drugs, low achievement and crime are intrinsically linked – so getting to the heart of the drugs problem is rightly a priority for police.

But even more effective than tackling the problem of established drug users is getting to the problem before it takes hold.

Youngsters may find themselves attracted to the danger and perceived glamour of drug use.

But only those who have been through the hell of addiction – and their long-suffering families – can testify how far away that perception is from the grim reality.

That is why is we welcome schemes like the one we report on today, where former drug users can speak to young people to tell them from a first-person perspective what it is really like to be a drug user. As Paul Hannaford tells us: ‘If I can speak to 25 kids in one session and stop one of them living like I did then it’s worth getting me in.’

Praise too should go to the young people who listened so eagerly to Mr Hannaford and used the opportunity to think clearly about the way they wanted their own lives to be played out.

This particular project is run by the Respect programme, part of Pompey in the Community, which has had an extraordinary and far-reaching impact on the lives of young people in the city.

It’s part of the community ethos of the club which has remained whatever dramas have been played out behind the scenes.

As we report today, another crucial date looms for Pompey, and another twist in the ownership saga has cropped up.

We don’t know what the judge will say when he is asked to make the vital decisions about Pompey’s future.

But we hope that whatever decision is taken, it will bear in mind that Pompey is a community club, with local people – including young impressionable people – at its heart. Whatever happens in the High Court, we hope that community focus is something that will be allowed to live on.