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Drinkaware workshop builds on evidence

On 31/07/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Following the appointment of new Drinkaware CEO Elaine Hindal in January and the publication of an independent audit on the way that Drinkaware operates and carries out its core activities, I attended a recent workshop to discuss Drinkaware’s longer-term strategy and continued development (2015 – 2020).

The first section of the workshop was addressed by Derek Lewis, Chairman of the Drinkaware trustees, who talked about the need for Drinkaware to focus on measuring the impact of its work on harm prevention, working better with other organisations and bringing more independent voices onto the board, without losing the value of having close support and cooperation with industry.

Elaine Hindal looked at Drinkaware’s priorities for the year and concentrating on their core purpose of delivering ‘unbiased, comprehensive, accessible information’. She made clear that evidence on effectiveness was key to enabling appropriate targeting of resources. This would involve examining Drinkaware’s core areas of activity - parents and children, teenagers, young adults and older adults and ensuring that activities were tailored to ensure maximum impact.

Jean Nicol from the Department of Health spoke about Drinkaware’s unique role in working with Government on helping people to drink within safe limits. She highlighted the work of the Responsibility Deal in bringing about real change, in particular the billion unit pledge.

Louise Park from Ipsos Mori spoke about measuring impact of Drinkaware’s work in target areas. There were some interesting findings around young people’s access to alcohol being linked to parents drinking behaviour. This research indicated the following:

  • The average age of first drink has fallen, although the number of 11-17 year olds trying alcohol has remained at a similar level since 2009. • In the 18-24 age category there is a greater recognition of the issues around alcohol related harm, although this has yet to translate into behavioural change. They indicate the level of binge drinking has increased since 2011 and there is still high proportions who believe that they need to get drunk on night out. • In the 24-44 age bracket one third of people can correctly name their daily unit intake. There is good recognition of units, but less understanding of how many units are in their drinks.
    The second half of the morning was made up of a group-based feedback session. My group discussed the effectiveness of using social marketing in driving behavioural change. It was felt that Drinkaware could learn a lot from supporter companies in this regard and tap into their social media activity where appropriate.

The role of pubs in promoting change was discussed - although it was agreed there was a key difference between helping customers make more responsible choices and telling them to do so. Pubs were providing customers with a choice of lower alcohol options, water and information on unit content - and this, along with good staff training, could help people to make healthier choices.

It was an informative day with a real sense that Drinkaware has taken the recommendations from its review on board.


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