Royal Society for Public Health set out to help communities tackle alcohol harm
Following a successful pilot in Greater Manchester, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has invited local authorities across the UK to take part in the ‘Communities in Charge of Alcohol’ (CICA) programme - a community centred approach to reducing alcohol harm through evidence-based interventions.
The pioneering pilot programme, which was evaluated by a team led by the University of Salford, delivered the first alcohol focused health champion role of its kind between 2017-19. The scheme has been responsible for:
- 249 AUDIT-Cs* completed by ‘Alcohol Health Champions’
- 1,129 brief conversations recorded
- 65 community events attended
- Action on licensing activity
The programme recruits and trains networks of locally engaged and RSPH accredited ‘Alcohol Health Champions’ (AHCs) - local residents who learn skills to address issues around alcohol consumption in their communities.
AHCs are trained to:
- Provide individual level brief advice, information and support, and
- Champion local action on alcohol availability, such as through influencing licensing decisions
Volunteers are recruited through local authority channels and community networks, and take part in a two-day training programme, designed by the RSPH and their Greater Manchester collaboration partners. The programme uses a cascade, or Train-the-Trainer model, whereby newly trained AHCs in each intervention area deliver at least one cascade training event.
This delivery is targeted predominantly at untrained members of the local communities, creating a cohort of second generation AHCs embedded within their communities. This Train-the-Trainer model provides long term sustainability to the building of support networks and local activism around alcohol issues within communities.
Kiran Kenth, Director of National and Regional Programmes, commented:
“Following the huge success of CICA in Greater Manchester, we are delighted to roll-out this ground-breaking programme and equip Community Alcohol Champions across the country with the resources and skills needed to empower individuals and communities to take back control of their alcohol consumption. CICA offers not only training, but direct action in local communities. The grass-roots approach that this innovative programme takes offers vital support to communities in the long-term.”
Professor Penny Cook, lead of the evaluation team at University of Salford, said:
“Our research aims to demonstrate the impact of the intervention. We have been collecting information using interviews, focus groups and observations, and so far have revealed inspiring stories from people’s personal journeys as alcohol health champions, as well as the factors that enable areas to set up the scheme and support alcohol health champions in their role. Later on in our evaluation, we will be able to compare alcohol harm data from areas that do and don’t have the intervention, so that we can see whether CICA leads to less alcohol-related burden on our hospitals and criminal justice system.”
Professor Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health for Wigan said:
“CICA is a pioneering programme led by community volunteers who are trained to help family, friends and colleagues rethink their drinking habits, with a view to reducing the amount of excessive drinking across the
Greater Manchester region.”
Bruce Poole, a local lead of the AHC programme added:
“Community teams were recruited out in the shopping centres, in the pub, in the street, through one to one
conversations in an informal way, and brought on a journey where they could start talking to people about alcohol and about their lifestyle behaviours.”
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