Local MP and Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Tracey Crouch has visited an organisation leading the way in the fight against the problem of underage drinking in the small town of Snodland in Kent.
Last Friday, Tracey Crouch- MP for Chatham and Aylesford, headed back to her constituency to learn more about the Snodland Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP), which works with key local organisations aiming to tackle the problems associated with underage drinking in the area.
Snodland CAP has been successfully running for three years, bringing together local partners including the Police, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, Kent County Council, retailers and pubs, Holmesdale Technology College, youth groups, Snodland Town Council, the local community, Kenward Trust and other charities to tackle underage drinking. As part of its local operation, Snodland CAP provides support and training to local retailers and educates young people about the harms of underage drinking.
During her visit, Ms Crouch saw some of the fantastic work that the CAP in Snodland is doing to minimise levels of underage drinking in the local community.
She chose the winning entry of a 'Create a Poster' competition that has been running at Samay's Youth Centre over the summer months. Following alcohol education by Kent Police, members of the youth club, run by KCC 0-25 Early help and Preventative Service, designed posters highlighting either the dangers of underage drinking or positive messages, with young people having fun without alcohol. The winning entry won a High Street Stores voucher kindly donated by the Cooperative on High St in Snodland.
Ms Crouch also met with Gillian Powell, Programme Manager for CAP nationwide, and Marguerite Dennison, the Area Risk Manager of the Cooperatice. Gillian and Marguerite shared an overview of the CAP national picture, as well as highlighting some of the achievements of the CAP in Snodland in developing resources to educate the public about the risks of alcohol, and the work done with retailers to ensure they are alert, vigilant and able to thwart attempts from underage buyers purchasing alcohol in their shops.
Community Alcohol Partnerships are located around the country, combining activity in education, enforcement, public perception, communication, diversionary activity and evaluation to combat underage drinking and its associated risks.
Speaking at the visit, MP Tracey Crouch said: "'It was a pleasure to visit the Snodland Community Alcohol Partnership to see first-hand how the CAP is addressing the education of young people and the local community whilst supporting responsible retailing of alcohol, and it was great to learn about the work CAP has been undertaking in the local area. Visiting the CAP and seeing so many partners working together, over a number of years, shows that expanding alcohol education beyond the classroom and engaging with local businesses and retailers can bring benefits and I look forward to seeing this work continue in the future."
Derek Lewis, Chairman of the CAP said: 'It was great to see how successful CAP has been in this local community. I was impressed to hear about the exciting programme of alcohol education and diversionary activity that has been rolled out to youngsters in the area.
By expanding alcohol education in an interesting and fun way, as well as engaging with local businesses and retailers, I can see huge potential for significant short and long term benefits and I look forward to seeing this work continue in the future.'
Brian Luker, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Community Safety, says: 'I am very proud of what the Snodland CAP has achieved so far. There's no doubt that its innovative partnership approach is helping to raise awareness among young people and parents of the significant risks of drinking alcohol irresponsibly."