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Minimise alcohol harms over the festive period, urges Drinkaware

As pubs and bars prepare for the festive season, alcohol education charity Drinkaware is urging operators to create an environment where customers can have a great time, while minimising the risk of alcohol related harms.

Drinkaware Director of Business Development & Partnerships Rommel Moseley said, “Raising a glass of seasonal ale or festive fizz is part of the Christmas and New Year celebrations for many people and most of them will enjoy alcohol responsibly.

“However, the sheer number of people coming into pubs, clubs and bars over the festive season inevitably means a heightened risk of alcohol harms.  Responsible operators will tackle this by both helping their customers to drink in moderation, and being alert and ready to support those who may be vulnerable after drinking too much.

“It’s also important to look after designated drivers and make sure they enjoy their visit as much as the rest of their group.  With the huge choice of interesting soft drinks and great tasting no-alcohol beers now available, catering for drivers, and others who choose not to drink, has never been easier.”

He added, “Drinkaware is able to support operators with a range of tools, including our Drinkaware Crew training, an e-learning programme for staff, and downloadable posters.

“Our e-learning programme helps staff to recognise and support customers who may be vulnerable after drinking too much, and it supports other schemes around customer safety, such as Ask Angela. Operators should ensure staff are trained on any new initiatives ahead of the busy festive season.”

Drinkaware tips for reducing festive alcohol harms

  • Stock a good selection of soft drinks for customers who choose not to drink alcohol, including designated drivers. If customers have a choice of soft drinks, they are more likely to substitute them for an alcoholic drink at intervals during the evening, which will help to limit their overall alcohol consumption.
  • Include no or low alcohol options on your drinks list. Drinks that are low in alcohol don’t have to be low on taste and many brewers, for example, have focused on the lower alcohol sector lately, producing flavourful beers with lower ABVs.
  • Review your wine offer. Choosing house wines that sit at the lower end of the ABV scale will help many customers to reduce their alcohol intake. Similarly, offer wine in a 125ml serve and make customers aware this size is available.
  • Serve food for the same hours as you serve drink, or as close as possible. Food slows the absorption of alcohol, so customers are less likely to become vulnerable as a result of drinking too much, too quickly.
  • Make it very clear that you will not serve alcohol to customers who are drunk, or who are attempting to buy for a drunken friend, both of which are against the law. Drinkaware and the British Beer & Pub Association have produced a ‘Can’t Get Served’ poster to communicate this to customers, downloadable free from the Drinkaware website here

Training for staff

Drinkaware’s Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course gives customer-facing staff the skills and knowledge to identify alcohol-related vulnerability and support customers at risk from harm.

The course helps staff to understand what vulnerability means, how to spot customers who are vulnerable to harm after drinking, and gives practical advice on how to support them. It includes scenarios with different types of vulnerable customers, including victims of drunken sexual harassment, to illustrate the appropriate responses to each, and asks questions after each of the three modules. Staff have to score 70% to pass the course.

The Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness course was created following the success of Drinkaware Crew training which has now been delivered in 21 areas across the country. While Drinkaware Crew is ideal for larger, 500+ capacity venues, the e-learning programme can be used to train staff in smaller pubs and bars.

Moseley added, “We are grateful to the many licensees who already support our goals, whether they’re displaying posters, training staff, or taking part in responsible drinks retailing schemes such as Best Bar None. The best pubs and bars are helping us all to change drinking habits for the better.”