National acclaim for Wirral
harm reduction project
Photo by Barney Newman
WIRRAL'S approach to reducing the harm
caused by super strength alcohol has been judged the best in the country.
At an awards ceremony in London, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
(CIEH) have presented its 'Best Project Award' to the people
behind Wirral's 'Reducing the Strength and Custodians' scheme. The
initiative is a partnership between Wirral Council's Environmental Health,
Trading Standards and Public Health teams, working with the Wirral Ways To
Recovery service. The award is recognition
of its collaborative approach as well as its success in achieving a number of
'Reducing the Strength' is now embedded in:- Birkenhead, Tranmere, Rock
Ferry and New Ferry working with local Off Licences encouraging them to stop the
sale of super strength, low cost beers and ciders. The scheme is now expanding
into Seacombe and other areas. As an extension to the project, the team also
developed the 'Custodians' scheme which trains staff in Off
Licences in how to signpost problem drinker customers to the drug and alcohol
service, Wirral Ways to Recovery. This is also proving successful and has been
well received by businesses.
In naming the Wirral project as the national award winner, the judges said:-
"This project stood out because of its ambition and its success in tackling this
important social and public health problem. The project delivered a range of
tangible outcomes through excellent planning, a multi agency approach and the
very effective use of Environmental Health skills, which were at its core.
Officers capitalised on opportunities during the project to enhance delivery and
this enabled the initial, already challenging targets to be exceeded and the
impact sustained. It was an excellent submission, highlighting a very well
planned, executed and evaluated public health initiative. All those involved are
to be congratulated."
Cllr Phillip Brightmore, Wirral Council's Cabinet member for Environment,
added:- "The highest praise should go to all of those involved in this
amazing initiative. It is a fantastic example of departments coming together to
better the lives of those living in the most challenging circumstances. It is
beyond doubt that alcohol-related harm in Wirral is being reduced as a result of
these initiatives and that many previously difficult or chaotic lives have been
made that little easier, which has a positive knock on effect for the wider
community. It is great to see work being done in Wirral being acknowledged as
the best in the country; it is well deserved."
'Reducing The Strength' was launched in Wirral in 2015 and asks
retailers to stop stocking and selling cheap, strong (above 6.5% ABV and above)
beer and cider.
Its initial target was to sign up 80% of Off Licences in the target areas to
'Reducing The Strength' agreements within 12 months. This target was
in fact exceeded. Subsequent targets are focused on rolling the scheme out
across Wirral and there is now an official pledge that by
2020, 30% of off sales premises would be
'super strength free.'