During Alcohol Awareness Week 2021 we were delighted to hold CAP’s first ever best practice webinar: reducing alcohol harm amongst young people. It brought together a wide range of experts to discuss how CAP helps tackle underage drinking and why its focus on providing alcohol education, working with retailers and delivering positive activities for young people is so successful.
We were honoured to be joined by Joy Allen - PCC for Durham and joint lead for alcohol and substance misuse - who gave the keynote speech. Joy spoke of her experience of working with CAP across Durham and as chair of the Bishop Auckland Alcohol Partnership. She described how CAP functions as a catalyst for effective local partnerships, working with local communities to bring together and support stakeholders with a shared interest in preventing underage drinking and encouraging responsible drinking among young adults.
She said: “That’s why CAP is so unique – and so successful. It brings together everyone in the community to tackle these issues, from the police to retailers, local councils, schools, health providers and community groups, all working to reduce alcohol harm among young people, improve their health and wellbeing and enhance their communities.
Joy described how CAP fits in with her police and crime priorities, adding: “Every area will have its unique problems and issues with underage drinking, and one of the joys of CAP is that it provides a flexible framework that can be adjusted to meet local needs, identify local problems and design and manage local action plans.”
Joy’s speech was followed by a presentation by CAP adviser Alan Simpson who has worked with CAP for almost 10 years, launching more than 80 CAPs across the North East of England and Scotland. Alan gave a fantastic overview of best practice within CAP from an operational perspective, providing some inspiring examples of our work around alcohol education, positive activities for young people and retail training and signage.
CAP Board director and CEO of Northern Ambitions Academies Trust Liz Fairhurst talked about CAP’s role in education - how it fits with the PSHE curriculum and enables schools to take both a targeted approach as well as a multi- pronged approach to reducing the number of pupils drinking and becoming involved in harmful behaviours. She said it was particularly useful having people involved in CAP from different organisations, including the police, the local council and community project workers.
Liz outlined the benefits for schools of working with CAP, and said since working with CAP school surveys had shown a reduction not only in the amount of alcohol consumed, but also a the age at which pupils began drinking.
She said: “CAP gives our young people the tools and information they need to make informed choices about alcohol.”
We also heard from the Director of Collingwood Learning, Chris Simes, who spoke about the award- winning theatre programme ‘Smashed’ which tours schools to deliver an interactive theatre experience and also offers a powerful film-based e-learning course, encouraging youngsters to resist peer pressure and make safe choices around alcohol. Take a look at this great film about Smashed which Chris shared: https://smashed.box.com/s/3sv8arr1u0aygg8bbx17bwi1h57wrsu8
An important part of CAP’s work is to provide leisure activities for young people to enhance their confidence, health and wellbeing and we work closely with Salus in Kent which offers support for children and young people. Roxanne Frost, Youth Services Manager for Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling, discussed the huge range of activities offered, and how they adapted during lockdown to continue to support young people by offering virtual sessions covering everything from yoga and bicycle maintenance to baking, crafts and slime making.
Roxanne described the importance of building rapport with local young people, engaging them in positive relationships and ensuring they have a voice in all matters that affect them.
The final 15 minutes of the webinar featured a panel of experts from the retail field, chaired by Hardish Purewal who is Chair of RASG and a CAP Director. James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores and Neil Eccles, Senior Licensing Manager at ASDA, were also on hand to discuss the vital role that retailers play in CAP and answer questions from the audience ranging from how they identify proxy purchases, when adults attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of children, to how they tackle online underage sales of alcohol.
If you would like to watch the recording of our webinar, please click here and use the password CAP2021.