Liz Burns looks back over some of our CICA highlights from 2019…
January: At the start of 2019, we were well underway with our follow-up interviews with Alcohol Health Champions, local CICA leads, licensing officers, and commissioners. We invited people to review their experiences of CICA as each local area reached their 12 month anniversary. During this second year of our five-year NIHR funded Communities In Charge of Alcohol (CICA) programme, we were thrilled to hear that more alcohol health champions (AHCs) would be publicly recognised for their community based work in the coming months.
February: “Hag Fold In Charge of Alcohol” were champion of champions in the Transforming Lives category of the BeWigan Awards 2019. John Settle, CICA Local Lead for Addaction Wigan & Leigh, was accompanied to the event by two of his amazing champions. He said: “whilst we were flattered to be nominated, we didn’t expect to win. There were eight other individuals or projects nominated in that category and all were very worthy of the award, so we were incredibly surprised when we heard our project name read out. We received a lovely trophy and also vouchers for three hundred pounds, which we plan to use to put on an event in the summer. It was greatly appreciated and a recognition of all the hard work the champions have done to develop the project and support their local community”.
March: At the Spirit of Salford Community Awards 2019, Alcohol Health Champion Angela Harris was a finalist in a very competitive category of ‘Volunteer of the Year’. Stacey Cass, Local CICA Lead and Senior Health and Wellbeing Worker for Salford Healthy Communities said how much she would like to: “recognise the resilience, determination and personal growth of all the Salford CICA Alcohol Health Champions. My opportunity to be involved with CICA and to work with these volunteers is an absolute privilege for which I will hold dear”.
June: We held two CICA focus groups in the summer of 2019, inviting residents to tell us their views about alcohol and the idea of having ‘Alcohol Health Champions’ in their community. We explored people’s perceptions about alcohol use in their neighbourhood, whether they had heard of the role of the Alcohol Health Champion and what they thought of it. Attended by more than 20 people, we really valued everyone’s input and particularly the assistance of the local CICA lead who helped with advertising and securing a meeting space to hold our focus groups at the local library.
September: Initial evaluation results were announced at the Public Health England Annual Conference in Warwick on the 10-12 September 2019. We highlighted how the Greater Manchester CICA programme had trained over 120 volunteers so far to help their family, friends and colleagues rethink their drinking habits. In a short interview with PHE North West, Deputy CEO for the Royal Society of Public Health, Duncan Stephenson and Liz Burns, University of Salford, talked about how areas with better infrastructure in place at the beginning of the programme (for example, having a provider organisation and a contract to deliver the service in place as well as support from elected members of local government) went on to train more volunteers. View our abstract and ePoster here
October: The University of Salford team hosted their inaugural stakeholder conference on the 18 October, opened by Professor Ben Light (Associate Dean Research & Innovation, University of Salford) and chaired by Dr Janet Harris (Reader in Knowledge Mobilisation, University of Sheffield). At this local conference – as well as the West Midlands Alcohol Licensing Forum later on in the month – we shared early findings in relation to the local context in each CICA intervention area, the experiences of recruitment and training, the Champions’ views, and the barriers and facilitators of establishing a community mobilisation project of its kind.
December: Our knowledge of alcohol harm was put to the test at the end of the year in an interview with Saffron Otter, writing in the Manchester Evening News ‘Why do we get ‘the fear’ the morning after a night out drinking alcohol?’. The brief advice role of an Alcohol Health Champion includes having conversations about the effects of harmful drinking on mental health as well as physical health. There were 33 pieces of coverage in total on the story and a reach of nearly 135,000,000 people over the Christmas and New Year period. Read the article here
Thanks to all that are involved in Communities in Charge of Alcohol, in particular to the work of the Alcohol Health Champions who are making a difference in their local communities.
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