Two young Reading boys are helping to spread the message about the risks of underage drinking. 14 year old Beck Walker and Charles Carter have passed the Level 2 Youth Champion Awards and will now represent Reading Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) as CAP Youth Champions, developing initiatives and projects to tackle underage drinking.
Both boys are pupils at The Reading Boys School, where CAP and Berkshire Community Foundation have funded the Youth Health Champion scheme, which is run by Reading Council Officers.
The course is designed to give young people the skills, knowledge and confidence to act as peer mentors, increasing awareness of healthy lifestyles and encouraging involvement in activities to promote good health.
They received their awards along with six other pupils who received Certificates of Achievement for taking part in the course.
Reading CAP was set up in January 2015 as a partnership between Reading Borough Council, local police, retailers, schools, neighbourhood groups and health providers. It aims to reduce the sale of alcohol to young people, advise them on the dangers of drinking and provide alcohol-free activities through youth services and local charities.
Beck Walker said: "It's nice to know we are taking an active part in our role in the community. I feel honoured to have the chance to educate and help Reading grow into a better place."
Miss Jo Capon, Reading School's Assistant Head Teacher, said: "It has been wonderful to be involved in a scheme such as this. Peer education is a powerful tool and I look forward to seeing how Beck and the team develop the strategy in the months ahead."
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading Borough Council's Lead Member for Health, said: "Congratulations to all the boys who have taken part in this course. Evidence suggests young people are more likely to seek advice from their peers, making Youth Health Champions a more effective way of getting health messages across."
Drinking alcohol underage can result in short and long term issues impacting on health, education and young people's future prospects. It also increases the risk of becoming involved in anti-social behaviour and crime which also affects the wider community.
Reading CAP, supported by Reading Council, has already driven forward an exciting programme of work including football tournaments with Reading Football Club incorporating alcohol education; taking the wheel of the First Stop Bus mobile alcohol education service for local schools and sixth form colleges and creating a Retailer Passport to help independent licensees.
An external evaluation of its work found that the CAP Retailer Training Programme has increased local retailer awareness of the law on sales of alcohol and increased retailers' capacity to challenge young people without acceptable ID. There were significant declines in the rate of test purchase failures and in the number of retail outlets where illicit alcohol was seized. In addition, fewer retailers reported issues with attempted underage and proxy purchasing (purchase of alcohol by adults for consumption by young people).
Notes for Editors:
Photos of the Youth Champions are available on request.
For more information see the CAP 2016 Impact Report which sets out the achievements of more than 120 CAPs across the UK: www.communityalcoholpartnerships.co.uk
In 2014, 38% of 11-15 year olds in England had drunk alcohol. This continued the downward trend since 2003, when 61% of pupils had drunk alcohol. However 4% said they drank alcohol at least once a week and a further 5% said they drank once a fortnight.
Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) schemes are set up to tackle underage drinking and the resulting harm to local communities. All schemes are managed and delivered locally via partnerships between local authorities, police, retailers, schools and neighbourhood groups and health providers, offering a flexible model tailored to fit the needs of each community. All schemes incorporate a mixture of education, enforcement, community engagement and the provision of diversionary activities for young people.
CAP is a Community Interest Company (CIC), funded by major alcohol retailers and producers who share its concerns about underage drinking. Current funders include: Aldi, ASDA, ACS, Brown Forman, Co-op, Diageo, Heineken, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Molson Coors, One Stop, Sainsbury's, SHS Drinks, Tesco and Waitrose. We are also grateful to the Welsh Government which provided £15,000 towards the establishment of three new CAPs in Wales.
The first CAP was set up in St Neots in 2007. Between 2014 and 2016 the number of CAPs more than doubled and by the end of 2016 there were 124 across the UK.
Statistics on Alcohol, Health and Social Care Information Centre, published 30 June 2016.
Data intelligence summary: Alcohol consumption and harm among under 18 year olds, Public Health England, published July 2016.