Earlier this month, as part of their Alcohol Awareness Week activity, HAGA celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with an exciting programme of events as part of its Annual Public Meeting (APM). All HAGA’s services and projects were showcased, as well as a service-user art exhibition focusing on stigma, “Growing Recovery” gardening workshops and a mocktail bar.
Key local and national speakers were also invited to reflect on the last thirty years in the field. Ian McGregor, Clinical Director, HAGA, discussed the challenges faced in setting up HAGA, and Dr John Rohan, Lawrence House Surgery, spoke about attitudes to alcohol in primary care when he was a junior doctor and the sea change brought about by Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change model in the early eighties.
Local political perspectives were heard in a statement from David Lammy MP, HAGA’s Vice-President, which highlighted HAGA’s central place in the community. Councillor Bernice Vanier, Cabinet Member for Communities, spoke passionately about the link between health inequalities and alcohol locally. Feelings which were reiterated by Dr Jeanelle De Gruchy, Director of Public Health, Borough of Haringey/NHS North Central London, who focused on how increases in alcohol consumption and in alcohol-related harm have gone hand in hand, and outlined how we might address this.
Looking to the future, Dr Matthew Andrews, Department of Health, highlighted the importance of prevention and early intervention over the next thirty years and how changes to the political landscape might help bring about an integrated approach, and James Morris, Alcohol Academy, also considered a future in which Identification and Brief Advice (IBA) is mainstreamed. David Brindle, Public Services Editor, The Guardian, told us about the changes he had seen in media attitudes to alcohol and his hopes for a greater emphasis on responsible drinking.
Two major academics also shared their perspectives: Professor Nick Heather, Northumbria University, argued that while brief interventions are crucial to individual level reductions in risky drinking, action on minimum pricing, alcohol marketing and other key issues will be vital to achieve population level change. Professor Betsy Thom, Middlesex University, a former HAGA trustee, discussed how women’s issues within alcohol treatment services sparked her interest in the field and outlined the distance travelled since on gender issues. Closing the session, Gail Priddey, C.E.O., HAGA, confirmed HAGA’s commitment to continuing to deliver quality services for those affected by alcohol and related issues.
HAGA’s 30th anniversary Annual Report which considers the last thirty years of alcohol treatment and interventions and outlines HAGA’s work from 2010 to 2011, was also released at the event.
Other activities conducted by HAGA to tie in with AAW included:
- An alcohol awareness poster campaign aiming to raise awareness amongst practitioners and the community. “The cost of alcohol abuse: who’s paying the price?” Poster featured six local facts about alcohol-related harm interspersed with cheap alcohol deals on a till roll.
- A feature article, “Don’t Bottle Up Stress,” on the Men’s Health Forum website based on Brief Advice.
- Alcohol awareness stalls across primary care, hospital and drug settings in conjunction with London Fire Brigade.
- A parent’s drug and alcohol evening at a local school delivered with Insight Haringey, Haringey’s young people’s substance misuse service.
- A two-page feature in The Tottenham Journal about the hidden problem of pressured professionals drinking at Increasing and Higher Risk levels
For more info see www.haga.co.uk/news.