5th December 2020

Communities tackling the harms caused by alcohol

Some of the new alcohol health champions recruited in Greater Manchester.

Radcliffe residents are among the first in Greater Manchester to take part in the Communities in Charge of Alcohol (CICA) programme.

This new regional initiative aims to create a network of ‘alcohol champions’, building on the principle that local communities should be empowered to take charge of their own health and people in those communities are best placed to influence their friends, families and colleagues.

This project is an innovative partnership between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, all ten Greater Manchester councils, the Royal Society for Public Health, the University of Salford and Public Health England North West.

Radcliffe has been chosen to pilot the first phase of the project, and 10 residents received RSPH Level 2 training to provide them with knowledge, skills and key contacts to:

  • Have informal conversations about alcohol and health with family, friends and colleagues
  • Support people to reduce drinking through brief advice or guiding them towards specialist services
  • Attending local community events to speak to people about alcohol and health
  • Provide support for communities to get involved with licensing decisions by helping them raise issues with the local authority about venues selling alcohol.

Through their conversations they will be able to influence a much larger number of people who in turn will share this knowledge with others. Through a train-the-trainer model further champions will be trained in each area with the plan to have around 30 champions in each one of the 10 neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester.

Sharon’s story:

“My name is Sharon, I live in Radcliffe and let me tell you my story. I was addicted to alcohol for many years. Due to my addiction I underwent a liver transplant in March 2014; I was very poorly and I was told I had an hour to live when they took me down to theatre.

“I currently volunteer at the ORB (One Recovery Bury) which is abstinence based; I co-facilitate this meeting supporting other group members. I found out about the Alcohol Health Champions (AHCs) training through Nikki Allison who manages the ORB.

“I found the training for the alcohol health champions very fulfilling. An alcohol health champion means, to me, giving something back to the community, sharing awareness, pointing people to the right professionals; it also enables me to listen and understand people’s views and if I can help one person to take the right path then it is very rewarding.”

Councillor Andrea Simpson, Bury Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “The social and health harms associated with alcohol hit Greater Manchester harder than in most areas of England, as they do for most of the North West. For example, rates of alcohol specific hospital admissions and mortality are significantly higher in all GM boroughs than the England average.

“It is vital that we help communities to take charge of their own health and they are also best placed to have a positive influence on their friends and families.”

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