Community takes charge to tackle alcohol misuse

image depicting alcohol misuse

An innovative programme which tackles alcohol misuse is being rolled out nationally following a successful pilot in Wigan borough.

The Communities in Charge of Alcohol scheme trains volunteers to become champions who can help friends, family and colleagues to rethink their drinking habits.

The aim of the programme is to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and has been piloted in nine of the 10 Greater Manchester authorities.

There are 31 champions based in Hag Fold, Atherton, who are supported by Addaction.

They have helped local people to reduce their drinking, guided them to access specialist support and offered them healthier alternatives.

John Settle, team leader at Addaction, said: “It’s been inspiring to see members of the community want to support and help their fellow residents. People from all walks of life have given their time, experience, commitment and energy to the project, which we’re incredibly grateful for.”

The champions also use their knowledge to train up others in the community on issues such as the impact alcohol can have on physical and mental health.

Volunteers are recruited through the council or community networks and include a mixture of people with different professions and skills.

The champions received training which helped them gain a qualification on how to make a difference to their area by tackling alcohol misuse.

They have also gone to complete mental wellbeing training which will broaden their skills.

John added: “They’ve gained qualifications, new skills and been able to find an outlet for their desire to make positive changes. Some have been able to use this as a foundation for a career in the caring professions and have gone on to study at university and find employment.

“I’m very impressed with them all and it’s a pleasure to be working with them.”

The regional programme was jointly delivered by the Royal Society for Public Health, GMCA, and Public Health England.

Coun Keith Cunliffe, cabinet member for adult social care and health, added: “We know that support from friends and family makes a huge difference in addressing health issues such as alcohol misuse and people are more likely to take on help and advice from someone they know.

“I’m hugely grateful to the residents of Hag Fold who have volunteered their time and expertise to become champions.

“The programme is a great example of how we’re empowering communities through The Deal to support each other to tackle local issues and improve local health outcomes.”