Members of Bishop Auckland Alcohol Partnership united forces to support Alcohol Awareness Week by raising awareness on the dangers of misusing alcohol and promoting low alcohol or alcohol-free alternatives.
The multi-agency partnership normally focuses on reducing underage drinking and alcohol related anti-social behaviour, but recently became concerned about reported increased drinking at home during lockdown. Members were unanimous in their desire to highlight the increasingly wide choice of low and zero alcohol drinks.
A survey for Alcohol Awareness Week, commissioned by charity Alcohol Change UK, showed almost one in three drinkers (29%) have been drinking at increasing or high risk levels over the past six months and over half of drinkers said they had drunk alcohol for a mental health reason such as feeling anxious, stressed or worried, feeling bored, having trouble sleeping or feeling sad or low at least once in the past six months.
While struggles with mental health led many to drink alcohol, it was found that drinking worsened mental health, with 44% reporting that they experienced a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.
Supermarkets across the town, who are active members of the partnership, offered to get involved and agreed to do in-store marketing and promotion to highlight the extensive choice of low and no alcohol drinks.
Michael Malone, Tesco Store Manager, said: “It has been great to work with the Bishop Auckland Alcohol Partnership during my time as store manager in Bishop Auckland. It has been a really positive partnership for Tesco and Bishop Auckland. In Tesco we have worked hard to improve the options of low and no alcohol to our customers. I’m looking forward to continuing the collaboration with Cllr Joy Allen and the Bishop Auckland Alcohol Partnership.”
Dawn Milne, Sainsburys Operations Manager, said: “It’s been good to be part of the Bishop Auckland Alcohol Partnership as it’s brought all the main retailers together to support those who shop with us and the community we serve, especially as we promote alternatives to alcohol and a healthier lifestyle.”
Officers from Durham Police distributed leaflets from Alcohol Education Trust aimed at parents and carers, warning them about buying alcohol for under 18s. They also used a stencil to spray short lasting chalk paint outside the entrances to supermarket and independent off-licences advising customers that it is an offence to buy alcohol for under 18s.
Alan Simpson, Community Alcohol Partnerships Adviser for the North East and East Midlands, said: “The Bishop Auckland Community Alcohol Partnership continues to make a positive and deep impact on the lives of young people and the community by working together to reduce instances of underage drinking and anti-social behaviour whilst at the same time promoting healthier lifestyles. On behalf of Community Alcohol Partnerships, I am proud to be a member of the group and am looking forward to continuing the support during 2021.”
Cllr Joy Allen, who chairs the Bishop Auckland Partnership, said: “Because of COVID, many people are rightly focusing on health and wellness and are more willing to try new, healthier low or zero alcohol alternatives. I was delighted when our local supermarkets stepped up and offered to get actively involved in Alcohol Awareness Week.
I had my first experience of zero alcohol drinks when I signed up for Dry January a number of years ago. At the time I was disappointed with the choice non-alcoholic drinks available. Since then, demand for low or no alcohol drinks has inspired the majority of well known brands to introduce alcohol free alternatives to their range. We hope that shoppers will give the alternatives to alcohol a try."