In 2012 SFCIC were commissioned by NHS North Lancashire to run two citizen-led inquiries into the responsible use of alcohol. We partnered up to deliver the work with Our Life, experts in health related community engagement.
The Morecambe and Fleetwood Alcohol Inquiries
Residents of Morecambe and Fleetwood participated in two Citizen Jury Alcohol Inquiries, taking place during June and December 2012, examining the effect of alcohol on the wellbeing of everyone in their communities. They were asked to make policy recommendations based on the following question:
We achieve success through working together and by regularly collaborating with other organisations.
Each Jury held regular meetings, where participants heard from and questioned a wide range of informed opinions given by invited expert commentators. The Inquiry used that testimony, alongside their own experience, to make recommendations towards “making it easier to have a more responsible relationship with alcohol”.
Addressing the issues
The issues participants felt they wanted to focus on, addressing the root causes that makes it difficult to have a responsible relationship with alcohol were:
- Loneliness and a lack of community spirit
- Peer pressure and changing drinking habits (such as competitive drinking, bragging on social media and a lack of social places without alcohol)
- A uniquely ‘British’ mentality towards alcohol and a family culture of drinking
- Drinking being too easily accepted, with a lack of values and social stigma against people who don’t drink
- Too much cheap alcohol in supermarkets, and irresponsible offers on alcohol by retailers
- Poverty leading to stress and debt
- Lack of interpersonal skills and social isolation leading to drinking as a coping mechanism.
Also important were:
- Not enough local support services and a lack of ‘professional help’
- High-strength drinks
- Influence of the media and marketing aimed at young people
- Nothing to do
- Nowhere for families to go together without alcohol
- Rethinking alcohol education in schools
- Homelessness (and the security in numbers through drinking together)
- Breakdown of extended family for support
- Lack of interest in ‘extra curricular’ activities
- Family problems and arguments
- Easy access to alcohol