Although fewer young people are drinking alcohol, statistics indicate that those who do drink are tending to drink more and what they drink tends to be stronger.  Around 10,000 under-18s are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of alcohol.

It was interesting reading the case-studies from Blackpool, St Helen’s, South Tyneside, Brighton and Hove, Leicester, Plymouth and Greenwich, in Safe. Sensible. Social. Tackling alcohol fuelled youth anti-social behaviour and crime, and to read the Lessons Learned:

  • Co-ordinating activity across the three strands (prevention, enforcement and support) is essential. Agreeing a shared set of priorities and collaborating on timing helps maximise impact and awareness of progress made.
  • The links between support and enforcement agencies are particularly important. Having embedded support workers alongside the police or street based teams helps ensure direct access to help for those who need it.
  • Tackling young people’s drinking has to be linked to a broader strategy to manage the night-time economy.  However the two issues do have significant differences.  Approaches need to take account of the problems experienced in city centres, parks, estates, shopping
    centres and other locations where young people drink.
  • Licensing activities, particularly test purchase operations, can be better-targeted using information from health, support and other enforcement agencies.
  • Positive activities, particularly under-18s clubs or music events that are alcohol free have shown considerable promise in reducing the problems associated with young people’s drinking. They also provide an opportunity to disseminate advice and information.
  • It is clear from the summer, that communicating effective police action on alcohol misuse can be successfully combined with promoting positive messages about young people more generally. The two do not contradict each other if planned in a co-ordinated way.

This is an issue that so often the church seems to ignore and not really engage with.  Reading the partner guide Safe. Sensible. Social. Young people, alcohol and positive activities I was challenged about how much have we in our youth work thought about credible alternatives to drinking, and how prepared are we to engage with young people who might be under the influence of alcohol.  We’re in the process of re-writing much of youth work policies and so one of the things we’ll be reviewing in the next few months is exactly what is our alcohol policy – are young people who have been drinking allowed to take part in activities; if we exclude them does that mean we provide a safe space in our building, do we take them home.

If you’ve got experience in this area what are some of the credible activities that you run or signpost to, and what is your policy for engaging with young people who might be under the influence of alcohol?

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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