I am really proud to lead an organisation that is widely regarded as best in class in tackling localised underage drinking. Key to our success is that we enable and empower local communities to create strong partnerships that identify local problems of underage and young adult drinking and design and manage their own action plans.
Our dedicated and highly skilled team of regional advisers support every project with a flexible toolkit of best practice ideas underpinned by a robust evaluation framework. CAP also provides direct funding for education and youth outreach work and we help to leverage sometimes substantial amounts of grant funding for local projects.
In just over a decade we have set up 210 projects in some of the UK’s heaviest drinking areas many of which are also economically disadvantaged. Our evaluations show that almost all CAPs achieve significant improvements in a short period of time. On average our projects achieve:
· 60% reductions in proxy purchase
· 90% compliance with Challenge 25
· 40% reductions in youth anti-social behaviour
· 52% reduction in regular drinking among 11-16s.
In my view, CAP excels in at least three areas:
First, CAP is really good at nurturing and building unique and transformative local partnerships. CAP partnerships invariably contain a much wider range of partners than are common in multi-agency work – typically these include local authorities, youth services, public health, police, trading standards, retailers, schools, local charities and youth outreach providers.
By working together with shared objectives and with everyone in the partnership having a valued role in delivering against an action plan, mutual trust and respect have ended the practice of working in silos and created great synergies. CAP is uniquely placed to offer work experience opportunities because of our strong links with retailers. We have trialled a Youth Employment Project (YEP) in our Tower Hamlets CAP and in Kent. In our Tower Hamlets CAP, a group of four young people not in employment, education or training took a City and Guilds Level 1 in Employability qualification and upon completion were offered a two week placement with Sainsbury’s where they were mentored by senior members of staff working in different departments. Following completion of the YEP project, one participant enrolled in an apprenticeship, another onto an IT course, one retook his GCSEs and another was looking for work supported by a key worker. A similar project was set up in Kent and one of the young people who undertook work experience at the Co-op went on to gain permanent employment in the store.
Second, CAP has been really good at evolving and adapting to the changing needs of our partners. In 2017 we extended the remit of CAPs to provide continued coverage as children reach 18 and become adults and we now have two CAPs with strong programmes for university students – namely Cardiff and Reading University. We also wanted to ensure that CAP programmes were sustained after their initial 1-2 years of intense activity and 24 of our CAPs have successfully transitioned to our CAP+ programme which supports them over the long term around core objectives linked to education and retail good practice. Covid-19 has impacted hugely on all of our lives and CAP adapted immediately to support all our partners via Zoom and/or Teams, adapting the highly successful Young Health Champions qualification for online delivery and also promoting innovative ways of delivering youth outreach including yoga and bike maintenance by Zoom and mental health sessions, arts and crafts and baking activities via Instagram.
Third, and perhaps most importantly of all, CAP is uniquely placed effectively to reduce the future burden of harm caused by underage drinking. Public Health England tells us that early drug and alcohol interventions for young people work and save money – a potential £5-£8 for every £1 invested. Underage drinking is associated with anti-social behaviour, crime, poor school performance and unwanted pregnancy/STIs in the short term and in the longer term is associated with low achievement/poor employment prospects and lower than average quality of life including alcohol related illness and/or dependence in middle life. The adverse impacts of underage drinking are particularly acute in socially deprived areas. CAP’s targeted approach means that we bring effective national programmes and best practice to areas with greatest harms. It is our goal to offer support to a further 100 high harm areas across the UK to develop CAPs to achieve universal coverage in all areas with above average harms after which we can move to a less resource intensive phase of sustaining good practice.