Elaine Hindal, Drinkaware chief executive
It doesn’t seem that long ago since Drinkaware held its last annual conference but a year has passed by in a flash – and what a year it’s been for Drinkaware and our delegates drawn from our funders and other partners and stakeholders who recently gathered at the Park Plaza Victoria in London
The Drinkaware team updated our audience on the charity’s progress and plans for the future whilst we also heard from senior figures from national and local government, the NHS and the police, including Victoria Atkins MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability and Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, Public Health England.
While all our speakers inevitably approached the subject of alcohol from their own perspective, there were some common themes:
UK alcohol consumption is a mixed picture.
The total amount of alcohol sold in the UK has been in decline since 2008 1 and, encouragingly, consumption by younger drinkers is continues to fall 2. However, there is still a worrying level of drinking among older age groups, who are increasing their risk of health harms – often without yet realising it.
The heaviest drinkers are drinking more.
Just 4% of the UK population – around 2 million people – account for close to one-third of all alcohol consumed3 and around two-thirds of higher risk drinkers are likely to be drinking the same or more than they were five years ago4.
Partnerships are achieving impressive results.
Three of our partners - Paddy Tipping, Police & Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire; Ian Birtley of Derby County Football Club, and Chris Lowe of ASDA spoke about their successful work with us.
The drinks industry must continue to be part of the solution to tackling alcohol harms.
Speaking via video link to conference, Victoria Atkins said that “pubs are woven into the fabric of our nation” and that everyone has an interest in educating consumers about the risks of excessive drinking. Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Public Health Minister, joined the Under Secretary of State in praising our work with ASDA.
Reaching different audiences requires different communications methods.
In 2017, more than 9 million consumers visited the Drinkaware website, making it the leading source of information about alcohol in the UK. The DrinkCompare Calculator was completed by almost 240,000 people and the Drinkaware app installed by more than 125,000 people. Emerging technology such as messaging apps, smart home speakers and wearable technology, may also enable us, in the longer term, to reach at-risk consumers in a meaningful way.
Every year I leave our conference inspired by what’s been achieved and energised by what the future holds – and this year was no different. 2017 was a great foundation year for Drinkaware’s new Five Year Strategy and the entire team is looking forward to building on this in 2018 and beyond.