The University has led the evaluation of an innovative campaign designed to help communities reduce alcohol harm through personal intervention.
Rolled out across Greater Manchester in 2017, the Communities in Charge of Alcohol (CICA) programme recruits and trains networks of locally engaged and RSPH accredited Alcohol Health Champions (AHCs).
Volunteers from each of the ten Greater Manchester boroughs learned how to discuss alcohol and health with friends, neighbours and colleagues. They were also trained to help reduce the oversupply of alcohol in their local area, supported by a local licencing officer.
Leading a team of researchers including experts from the University of Bristol and the University of York, Professor Penny Cook sought to demonstrate the impact of the intervention.
The team’s work included interviews to explore how AHCs worked in the community as well as surveys to understand how AHCs applied their new knowledge and skills. They also compared the CICA areas with matched comparison areas that did not experience CICA. This allowed them to measure whether the intervention reduced the undesirable consequences of alcohol such as hospital admissions, A&E attendances, ambulance call outs and levels of crime.
In the first year, 123 alcohol health champions were trained and over 1100 brief conversations with family, friends, colleagues and community members held.
A number of these conversations were life-changing leading to early primary care interventions for conditions associated with alcohol harm, and some volunteers had won awards for their work while others used the experience and confidence gained to move into employment.