National award for dedication to tackling underage drinking

18 February 2020

Tackling underage drinking and helping to improve the lives, health and wellbeing of young people in Newark and Sherwood has led to a national award for a council officer.

Helen Ellison, Newark and Sherwood District Council’s health improvement officer and co-ordinator of the Ollerton, Boughton and Edwinstowe Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP), was awarded the Outstanding Contribution by an Individual Award at the CAP celebration at the House of Lords.

The CAP, launched in October 2018, as part of the council’s Cleaner, Safer and Greener campaign, was set up to prevent the sale of alcohol to young people, advise them on the dangers of drinking and provide alcohol-free activities through youth services and local charities.

As a main component of the initiative, diversionary activities that involve physical activity were launched for under-18s to engage with and to help deter them from drinking alcohol. A wide variety of sessions that promote healthy lifestyles have been set up, including a weekly parkrun, football, netball, kickboxing, cycling, skate-boarding and rugby.

CAPs, which have been established in other parts of the UK, are made up of retailers, local authorities, police, schools, neighbourhood groups and health providers that work together with the aim of educating young people, adults, licensees and retailers.

Helen said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. As a mother myself, it’s hugely rewarding to be a part of an initiative that is making a genuine difference to the lives and wellbeing of young people in an area which has experienced high levels of underage drinking.

“The success of the Community Alcohol Partnership is also testament to the hard work of all the partner agencies involved - including the police, the county council’s youth service, local retailers and the council’s sport and leisure company, Active4Today – without whom the project would not be possible.”

In March 2019, the CAP was also awarded Project of the Year in the Notts Getting Active Together awards, in recognition of its work around alcohol education, promoting healthy lifestyles and using physical activity to help improve health and wellbeing.

Following the success of the award-winning Ollerton, Boughton and Edwinstowe CAP, another scheme was launched in Clipstone and Forest Town which Helen played a key role in setting up.

Presenting the award, CAP Board member, Inspector Andy Morrice of the Lincolnshire Constabulary said: “Helen has brought together a wide range of local partners to promote healthy lifestyles and alcohol education. She has inspired and motivated partners to create many diversionary activities for young people.

“It was a proud moment for Helen when the Ollerton, Boughton and Edwinstowe CAP won the Notts Getting Active Together Project of the Year Award last year, recognising its amazing work to transform the lives, health and wellbeing of the local community. I’m delighted to second that appreciation with this award today.”

Excessive drinking has the ability to impair judgement, promote aggressive behaviour and increase the likelihood of crimes including vandalism and property damage. 

Evidence has suggested that education about alcohol is often a poorly taught subject among young people and CAPs promote a greater emphasis on alcohol education in both schools and other settings such as youth clubs.

The partnerships also include the provision of information to off and on licensed premises in the CAP area to help avoid incidents of underage sales. Premises are encouraged to display notices warning against purchasing alcohol for under 18s, and to use the Challenge 25 scheme so anyone over 18 but looking under 25 is encouraged to carry acceptable ID.

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