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The National Union of Students’ Alcohol Impact Award

Specialist work to reduce alcohol related harm to students at Durham University has been marked with a prestigious award.

The National Union of Students’ ‘Alcohol Impact’ accreditation recognises a three year partnership between the University, Durham Students’ Union and Humankind’s County Durham Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service to promote responsible alcohol consumption, improve students’ welfare and wellbeing, and create a more inclusive environment.

Durham University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), Owen Adams, said: “This award is testament to the excellent work by our University, the Students’ Union, and County Durham Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service to create a positive culture of responsible drinking and, ultimately, a healthier, safer, and more productive student community.”

The successful initiative has seen hundreds of students trained around alcohol related issues, drug and alcohol service roadshows in every university college, and the creation of a weekly drop in service for students with problems.

Jo Boyd, Trainer of Humankind, which is the lead provider in the County Durham Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service, said: “We were delighted to work with the University and the Students’ Union, which so clearly put student welfare as a top priority.”

The accreditation recognised work in adapting the Public Health “Have a Word” campaign for a student audience. The service sought the views of around 50 key figures in Durham’s student community to create new messages aimed at reducing harm for students.

Jo said: “Last year, over 130 freshers’ representatives – including sports and society captains and common room officers - attended the training.

“Following positive feedback from students, college staff and the police this partnership has been further built on and more than 250 freshers’ reps completed at the start of this academic year.”

The training was aimed at increasing their understanding of alcohol, identifying peers whose drinking might affect their health, and recognising appropriate moments to advise how to reduce risk and access support.

County Durham Drug and Alcohol Service has also worked with the University Counselling Service to open a weekly drop-in session at the University’s Palatine Centre.

The Service additionally holds a drug and alcohol roadshow at each of the University’s 16 colleges, each timed to coincide with evening meals/events, and has encouraged a culture of respecting those who prefer to cut down on their drinking or those who do not drink.

College bars have now introduced popular signature alcohol free “mocktails” to be sold as well as their cocktails.

Jo said: “The award which the University and Students’ Union have received shows what can be achieved when services use evidence based resources and work together in partnership.”

Sgt Mick Urwin from Durham Constabulary, said: “We saw a notable, positive change during the last freshers’ week in the behaviour of students.

“The work carried out with freshers’ reps was invaluable in ensuring that new students enjoyed a safe night out with freshers’ reps recognising when to intervene with a student who had had too much to drink and making sure they were looked after and returned to their accommodation safely.”

PHOTO – Pictured at the awards ceremony at the Lindisfarne centre, St Aidan’s College, Durham University – (left to right names and organisations.)

Ted Haughey, Lisa Waite, Jo Boyd, Maggie Crow, Vicky Haughey and Jane Sunter