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Big Alcohol Conversation: Does the battle against booze begin at home?

Thursday 15 November 2018

PUBLIC health experts at the University of Salford are part of a pioneering approach to problem drinking in Greater Manchester.

Today (Thursday, November 15, 2018) the Mayor of Greater Manchester revealed that the annual cost of alcohol to the area is £1.3billion. And he invited residents to join the Big Alcohol Conversation to have their say on how we can tackle the harm caused to by excessive drinking to individuals, families and communities.

The University of Salford is assessing one novel approach to excessive drinking called the Communities In Charge of Alcohol (CICA) programme. Launched in September 2017, CICA installs and trains community ‘champions’ to help family, friends and colleagues to rethink their drinking habits.

Professor Penny Cook, an expert in alcohol related behaviours at the university’s Equity, Health & Wellbeing Research group and lead CICA researcher, said: “The Government telling people to drink less is plainly not an effective approach, so the idea of family and friends taking up the challenge is an interesting one.

“If the impact is significant enough in Greater Manchester,it could be a scheme that goes on to be introduced in other parts of the UK.”

'Being a Champion'

The Big Alcohol Conversation – officially launched at Fairfield Social Club, Manchester, today featured speakers including Jon Rouse, CEO of the GM Health and Social Care Partnership, Sacha Lord, CEO of the Warehouse Project and Parklife, Anna Webster, a adoptive mum of a child with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and James Carter, a former alcoholic and CICA Champion.

Liz Burns, CICA co-investigator, led an on-stage Q&A with some of the volunteers.

Champion Angela Harris said: “Being a champion is about listening to people. Often people are hurting and harbouring a problem which is why they drink.”

Today’s launch was, in part, to encourage more CICA volunteers but also to gather other ideas from the public and learn more about the role of alcohol in people’s lives and communities.

Five-year study

The impacts of CICA will be measured over a five year period(2017-22) in terms of alcohol related hospital admissions, ambulance call outs,anti-social behaviour and crime as well as the economic impact.

The latest statistics from Public Health England show that residents from across all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester are consuming 53% more alcohol than the national average.



Community Alcohol Champions attend local community events to speak to people about alcohol and health and be involved in licensing decisions within their communities. The importance of having a strong local knowledge has been recognised by local authorities, who alcohol champions will have a direct link with to report concerns.

The project is being run in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, all ten Greater Manchester Local Authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health, the University of Salford and Public Health England North West.

The University of Salford, with the University of Bristol and University of York, have been funded by the National Institute of Health to measure the impact of the project on Greater Manchester’s alcohol consumption.

Find out more

Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

0161 295 6895