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George Charlton

North-East Ambassador


George lived with personal addiction to drugs and alcohol and struggled with extreme mental health problems for well over a decade. Growing up in South Tyneside, George was excluded from school at the age of 15, did not sit any exams and left school with no qualifications. Steadily over time he found himself on the wrong side of the law, becoming involved in crime, drug dealing and wider criminal activity, resulting in him spending several years within the prison system.

Over the years, George spent time within mental health services and, at times, was detained under the Mental Health Act, owing to self-harm and a desire to take his own life, before going on to find personal recovery after a year long stay in a residential rehabilitation centre in the year 2000. As part of his work, George works with individuals who have direct lived experience of substance use disorder and empowers them to share their lived experiences in order to support and educate others. George has developed and delivered many projects with the support of peers across the region and has collectively trained in excess of 1000 individuals in Drug & Alcohol Awareness, Harm Prevention and the impact of substance use on the family unit.

George is commissioned by Durham Constabulary to teach every new police officer & PCSO at the beginning their career about Drug and Alcohol Harms, highlighting the significant role police can play in supporting those affected by addictions, whilst humanising & destigmatising those who use drugs and alcohol in a problematic way. George is currently working in partnership with Durham Agency Against Crime where he has developed the Young People’s Life Choices Program, which sees young people in schools being trained to become life choice ambassadors, educating their peers around alcohol & drug related harms, whilst promoting safe & healthy life choices. George is also the Chair of the North East Regional Service User Forum and steering group.