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Drinkaware goes to Derby

On 06/02/18 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

I was delighted when Drinkaware invited me to go to watch Derby County against Brentford, not least because I had not visited Pride Park, but also to see in action the activities of DrinkAware as a preferred partner for the football club and exactly how this worked. With my background at Leicester City, I have always understood and been a strong supporter of outreach offered by football club community teams; there is nothing more obvious than harnessing the pride and interest of everyone in a city who loves football and look to change behaviour. It turns out that Derby has a higher rate of inactivity than many other cities in the UK and lower mortality rates too; an obvious target for action to improve activity, reduce weight and as ever in Drinkaware terms, ‘drink a little less and feel a lot better’.

I have always believed that sport reflects and unites communities and those who watch comes from all walks of life. I was helped to find by way from the station to the stadium by a young man who was a steward. He was looking to join the army but his recruitment had been delayed, so in freezing temperatures and rain he turned up for every home fixture and when he was not at Derby he travelled to other clubs to volunteer his services. Thus the power of sport.

Derby County Community Trust receives funds from Sport England to encourage greater physical activity. They take on those who are referred to them by doctors, often recovering from heart and injury problems, in need of weight loss and looking for social interaction. These are often men over 45, from lower income groups, but keen to engage with sport and adopt lifestyle change. They run walking football competitions, which we had hoped to see at half time on the pitch, (with the players wearing Drinkaware vests), but it was just too wet, but it was great to see the Drinkaware logo on the advertising hoardings round the ground and to meet the local Police and Crime Commissioner; Hardya Dhindsa who is keen to meet and work with the industry. Derby is one of the 22 Local Authority Alcohol Action Areas. They are working with the LAAA introducing Drinkaware Crew to reduce harm to young adults and training venue staff in the city to recognise vulnerability and the risks associated with heavy drinking.

At the Game, Drinkaware launched ‘Game Changer’, volunteers moved amongst the fans and were asked to choose from four ‘game changing’ moments from Derby’s footballing history. It is also on the Derby County website. There is also an invite to visit and may over time allow them to identify specific Derby wards where action is most needed. Everyone at the game were given hand warmers, sponsored by Marstons (who also supply beer to the ground), it was a great initiative; fun, but with some important messaging.

And not to forget the football, Derby won 3 – 0. It did not help Brentford that a player was sent off after 20 minutes! So hopefully some happy fans who will have an incentive to look at their lifestyle and how it might be improved. Thank you Drinkaware; a really good initiative which all of us should support.


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