Focus on Alcohol, Dec 1-5, 2014

The Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Task Force (DLR- DATF) in partnership with Southside Community Training Network has been exploring proposals for developing a county-based Alcohol Strategy and hopes to formally initiate this Strategy during 2015. Meanwhile it is undertaking a preliminary information development and consultation process, with a view to developing a local leadership training programme on alcohol.

   In recent years, through the work of the WHO and national health authorities, including Ireland’s Department of Health and the Health Service Executive there has been a growing awareness of the impact of alcohol on society and in particular of its global burden of disease, and its wider social and economic costs, including the role alcohol plays in accidental deaths, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, social disorder, work and school absenteeism, and the additional cost its misuse can have for the management of public areas and facilities.

  The international research literature supports the contention that comprehensive, county-level, community mobilization strategies can effectively complement national-level actions, where these exist, and achieve measureable changes in individual and group behaviours towards alcohol, thereby contributing to a reduction in alcohol-related harms.

  In this context a comprehensive approach would require, as a priority, the coming together of social service and local government and education agencies, as well as health and police authorities to plan, develop, implement and evaluate appropriate actions. It would also require that community and youth services and local voluntary agencies and representatives be supported to promote a changed approach and attitude towards the role of alcohol in the community and in society, more generally.

   In October 2013, the Irish Government announced its intention to implement several new legislative and policy measures to tackle alcohol problems and also decided that alcohol should be included in the work of local drug task forces, which have now been re-named to reflect this additional responsibility. Furthermore, a National Coordinating Committee for Drug and Alcohol Task Forces (NCC-DATFs) was established in January this year, and has since issued a discussion document on the possible role of task forces in relation to alcohol, with particular attention to their prospective role in community mobilization efforts. Meanwhile preliminary once-off funding for DATFs to deal with alcohol issues, under the Dormant Accounts scheme, has also been announced for 2015.

  Taking these developments into account, the Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Task Force (DLR – DATF) in conjunction with the Southside Community Training Network (SCTN), a project of Southside Partnership, has undertaken to plan the preliminary stages of developing an alcohol strategy for the DLR county area. To date there has been a public meeting with invited speaker, Dr. Shane Butler (TCD) and one-to-one consultations with individual community projects have also taken place, while other consultations are in train. It is envisaged, as a result of these efforts, that by early 2015 a pool of persons from relevant statutory, voluntary and community sectors, will be identified and brought together. It is expected these persons will:

  • have good knowledge of alcohol interventions, and be able to differentiate programmes with a strong evidence base from those that do not have strong evidence;
  • be strategically placed within their own organisations to support an alcohol strategy, to promote it internally, and to get access to and manage relevant performance data;
  • have the capacity and willingness to work alongside other partner organisations and personnel in a collaborative effort to tackle alcohol.

By way of developing this process further, the DLR-DATF is promoting the hosting of a series of events and discussions to take place during the week of December 1-5, next – a DLR – Focus on Alcohol Week. In the main these events will be hosted by individual youth and community projects and services and they will provide these groups with an opportunity to bring focus to the role alcohol plays in their work, and in the issues and problems they deal with on an ongoing basis.  For some, such as drug treatment services, the role of alcohol is quite evident, but for others, such as child, family and youth services it is more indirect, and can often remain unstated in the ongoing work of projects and services.  With these variations in mind it is hoped that the different ways that alcohol issues impinge on everyday life can be explored and reflected upon in an open, informative manner, thereby contributing further to debate on and interest in this challenging topic. In addition the DLR-DATF and Southside Community Training Network will jointly host a seminar on December 5th to explore the main challenges arising in moving this process on further.

 © DLR - DATF, 2016   C/O Southside Partnership, Main st., Blackrock, Co. Dublin Tel: 01-7060125 / 087-6494922