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Alcohol

Charity launches Ireland's first Alcohol Awareness Week

The Alcohol Forum said there is evidence that communities have a major role to play in starting a process of mindset and culture change.

NATIONAL CHARITY, THE Alcohol Forum will launch Ireland’s first Alcohol Awareness Week from 18 to 22 March, with the aim of raising public knowledge of the country’s “harmful drinking culture” and challenge communities to evaluate their role in tackling it.

The charity said it has developed a series of products to support communities in helping themselves when it comes to reducing alcohol-related harms. These include a Festival Care Guide, Spirit of Sport and a Community Mobilisation Toolkit.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Anne Timony-Meehan, Community Mobilisation Officer at the Alcohol Forum, said the Spirit of Sport Guide will focus on the impact of alcohol on sporting performance and encourage clubs to look at how they celebrate events.

“We’re hoping to get communities to look more at making events and celebrations family friendly,” she said. “Parents say to us all the time that they know their children see too much.”

There is research that shows children at 5 or 6 years of age already have set ideas around on TV, in the home, outside, at football matches etc. We have been working with schools to support children so that they make wiser choices and build a resiliance to give them confidence so they have an answer for their peers when it comes up.

Alcohol in the home

The campaign is also aimed at encouraging people to look at the habits in their own homes. “If there is alcohol in the house and it’s in the fridge, visible and put in among food stuffs we, as adults, are sending a certain message to young people,” Timony-Meehan said. “By doing that we’re saying that alcohol, which is a drug, is the same as milk, bread or cheese.”

A series of events will take place throughout the week including a conference entitled, “The Power of Local Community in Reducing Harmful Drinking”. This will run alongside Ireland’s National Healthcare Conference taking place in the National Convention Centre Dublin on Wednesday 20 March.

Speakers include Minister Alex White TD, Junior Minister for Health; Dr. Ann Hope, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin and Dr. Walter Kern Scheffeldt, Clinical Psychologist, Zurich University of Teacher Education.

The charity said it expects its Soapbox session to be “thought-proviking and hard-hitting” with several people like Irish Times columnist John Walters, President of the Union of Students in Ireland John Logue and Denis Bradley, former Vice Chair of Northern Ireland Policing Board taking part.

There are also plans to launch a 5 km “Dry Run” family event and fundraiser later in the year.

Organisations around the country are invited to host their own alcohol awareness event in association with National Alcohol Awareness Week and the full calendar will be updated by Alcohol Forum.

For more information on National Alcohol Awareness Week and National Alcohol Conference log onto www.alcoholforum.org.

To register for conference or to register an event for Alcohol Awareness Week call 074-9125596 or email info@alcoholforum.org.

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