COVID has not stopped great partnership working to reduce alcohol harm among young people and improve their health and wellbeing.
And although we’re doing things differently this year it’s fantastic to see CAPs around the country taking part in Alcohol Awareness Week from 16-22 November on the theme of ‘Alcohol and mental health’.
Alcohol Awareness Week is co-ordinated by the charity Alcohol Change UK. It’s an important opportunity for everyone to:
· talk about the issues around alcohol and mental health, helping us make more informed choices about our drinking
· tackle the stigma associated with drinking, which can be significantly worse for those struggling with mental health problems as well as drinking problems
· call for action to help those most in need, including the 200,000 children living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer
· help those struggling to seek support
CAPs have found inventive new ways of working during lockdown - connecting with young people remotely to encourage positive activity through virtual youth clubs, Zoom sessions and live Instagram sessions. We’ve adapted to create, train and support Young Health Champions online, held virtual meetings, responded to incidents of anti-social behaviour while maintaining social distancing and offered online training and telephone support to retailers.
Much of that work will be stepped up during Alcohol Awareness Week. Auckley, Blaxton, Branton and Finningley CAP will use social media to raise awareness and engage the community in CAP’s work, as well as working with local retailers to make sure Challenge 25 requirements are in place for young people to carry acceptable ID when they want to buy alcohol.
In Boston, the emphasis will be on education with the CAP working with schools to display publicity materials and circulating alcohol awareness videos to schools and young people’s centres.
In Glastonbury, a new CAP will launch during the week, following local school surveys in which nearly 14% of pupils said they drank daily or almost every day – the majority of them just 13-14 years old. The new CAP will work closely with local schools to take a proactive approach to alcohol education, to ensure that young people are equipped to make the right decisions about issues including alcohol, drugs, anti-social and criminal behaviour.
In Bishop Auckland, the CAP is organising an online conference addressing alcohol harm. A focus will be the “One Punch North East” campaign, encouraging people to consider how much alcohol they drink and reminding them that in a split second they could become a killer or be killed.
In Reading, local retailers are being invited to take part in online training to help them avoid making underage sales or proxy sales (where adults attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of children), demonstrate due diligence and protect their licences.
One of our partners in Kent, Salus, delivers youth work in four different areas of the county and works with our CAPs in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Snodland. Its online youth club sessions this week include discussions on young people’s experiences with alcohol, plus a quiz focusing on facts and myths about alcohol and its impact on mental health.
We know that many young people are facing worry and stress at this time. During Alcohol Awareness Week CAP and its community partners will be doing everything we can to highlight these issues and inspire change.