A group of community champions have made an extra commitment by training to become Alcohol Health Champions in Bolton.
A recent full meeting of Bolton Council proved to be something of a milestone for Bolton’s reinvigorated Communities in Charge of Alcohol (CICA) scheme.
Four of the recently trained CICA Alcohol Health Champions stepped forward to collect their Royal Society for Public Health awards to rapturous applause from all present.
CICA is all about reducing the harm alcohol can cause to us and in our communities.
Although alcohol is legal, easy to get hold of and can be very cheap, many experts think that overall, it causes more harm than any other drug.
In Greater Manchester alone, spending on alcohol related crime, health, worklessness and social care costs amounts to £1.3bn per annum - or £500 per resident!
The CICA initiative gives volunteers the knowledge, confidence and skills to start having conversations about alcohol in the places they live.
This can mean informally giving alcohol-related brief advice to individuals such as family, friends and co-workers where it feels safe and OK to do so.
CICA Alcohol Health Champions know where people can get help and can signpost them to that support.
Having learnt about licencing laws via CICA, the champions can also start community level conversations about things like anti-social drinking.
If alcohol is not being sold responsibly, perhaps to under 18s, they know who can be safely contacted to help with that.
Ongoing research into CICA by the University of Salford has found that CICA not only benefits communities but also helps the volunteers who get involved.
Many Alcohol Health Champions say they get great satisfaction from what they do.
It has also helped some to get new jobs, thanks to the valuable “level 2 qualification in understanding alcohol misuse” that they gain as part of the process.
Bolton Council’s Assistant Director of Public Health, Suzanne Gilman, said:
“I am extremely proud of the champions that have stepped up and taken on this extra responsibility and I am delighted that they have all passed with flying colours.
“Reducing alcohol harm is a key initiative within Bolton Public Health and the support of our champions means we have a better chance of helping local people to live a healthier life.
“We look forward to introducing more of these specialised roles over the next 12 months and would urge people to get involved.”
Alcohol Health Champion & local barber, Craig Henderson, said:
“The training I received for the CICA awards, has been a valuable asset to help with supporting my clients.
“It has given me the knowledge and resources to help signpost them to further help with their addiction, this helps the client with their first step to recovery and potentially saved their life.”
CICA training is currently free to volunteers and it is hoped more training courses will be running soon.
Find out more about becoming an Alcohol Health Champion on the Community Champions website.