A new independent charitable Trust aimed at positively changing the UK's drinking culture and tackling alcohol-related harms was officially given the go-ahead today by Government Ministers Caroline Flint and Vernon Coaker, the alcohol industry and key stakeholders.
The 'Drinkaware Trust', voluntarily funded by the alcohol industry and to be up and running later this year, is a unique initiative born from the Government's 'Choosing Health' White Paper and Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy. The Trust will bring together - for the first time - industry, charities, lobby groups, medical professionals and experts in the field to address alcohol misuse across and promote sensible drinking across the UK.
Work by the Trust, includes educational campaigns to promote sensible drinking among the general public, project aid for local and national initiatives, and the running and evaluation of pilot programmes to tackle alcohol related harm.
Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said:
"This is an international first. The new Drinkaware Trust is a model of how industry, stakeholders and Government can work together to achieve a shared goal. Alcohol misuse can blight the lives of communities across the country - not only harming the health of individuals but fuelling late night violence and causing a nuisance to society.
"The success of the Trust will depend on securing the support of a broad range of stakeholders across the UK - and that's what we've done.
"There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. Alcohol is a normal part of society and we're not trying to stop that. What we are saying is that people need to be sensible and not drink excess amounts that can lead to serious conditions such as liver cirrhosis or result in disorderly behaviour.
"Everyone has worked really hard to make this work and I am confident the new Drinkaware Trust will help in achieving this goal."
The New Trust marks a significant milestone and underlines both the industry's commitment to share responsibility for positively changing public behaviour tackling and preventing alcohol misuse and the Government's role to work in partnership with the industry and key stakeholders to achieve this.
It also forms part of the Prime Minister's 'small change, big difference ' initiative to draw together the power of businesses, the voluntary sector and local communities to tackle specific health problems by making it easier for people to change the way they live their lives.
Government has been working in partnership with the alcoholic drinks industry for some time to promote more sensible drinking. And the launch of the Drinkaware Trust marks another move in the right direction. Government is also working with the industry to implement their social responsibility standards, which will address irresponsible promotions, underage sales and includes putting sensible drinking messages on alcoholic drinks labels.
Vernon Coaker, Home Office Minister, said:
"The Home Office has put in place tough measures to deal with alcohol related disorder. I have made it clear that we will not tolerate the minority of people who drink to excess and cause fear and intimidation in our towns and cities.
"The launch of the Drinkaware Trust marks an important step forward in our efforts to encourage people to take responsibility for their own behaviour. I am sure that by working together we can make a real difference to the lives of the majority of people who drink sensibly."
Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, added:
"This is an exciting new initiative. The Drinkaware Trust will bring together the drinks industry and those tackling alcohol misuse, providing a unique opportunity to really make a difference in changing the way we drink alcohol in the UK. The Trust has set itself challenging goals. By working together, the drinks industry and organisations tackling alcohol harm will make these all the more achievable."
Chris Searle, Chairman of The Portman Group, said:
"We are delighted that we have been able to provide the practical means to take the implementation of the alcohol harm reduction strategy forward on the education and campaigning front. This approach demonstrates the benefits of the industry, government and other stakeholders working in partnership around a shared agenda." An interim chief executive will be appointed very shortly and the Drinkaware Trust will be seeking a chair, a permanent chief executive and 13 independent trustees to run it. Trustees will come from a broad base including alcohol experts from the health, education and voluntary sectors as well as the drinks industry. There will also be two lay trustees. Once they are appointed, it is the aim that the Trust will be fully operational by the end of the year.