NIHE gets on board to challenge city’s booze culture

(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
(Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

The Housing Executive and a local anti-alcohol abuse lobby have joined forces to try to curb an out-of-control drinking culture that is contributing to more than half of all arrests in Londonderry.

‘Drink Think’ was set up with the PSNI and Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) in 2011 and is delivered by the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum.

The scheme has now been extended to Housing Executive tenants who have been involved in anti-social behaviour after drinking alcohol.

Susan Harkin, from Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, said: “Following referral from the Housing Executive, participants attend a two-hour alcohol awareness workshop focusing on the effects of alcohol on the body and responsible decision making regarding the use of alcohol while also addressing their current alcohol consumption and the impacts on themselves and others.

“The rationale is to engage with those, who have been involved in alcohol related anti-social behaviour or crime, in a meaningful and relevant manner to explore attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol and to limit the chances of re-offending. This has proved beneficial to date and has been well received by participants who can be initially reluctant to engage.

“This educational programme will also help reduce the number of alcohol related offending and anti-social behaviour in the Derry City and Strabane District Council and give participants a wider understanding of the impact of alcohol misuse on themselves, their families, neighbours and the wider community.”

Eddie Doherty, the Housing Executive’s Housing Services Manager for the area, said: “We are looking forward to being involved in this innovative partnership programme which provides an opportunity for the Housing Executive to offer a positive alternative to those experiencing alcohol related harm and hopefully make a positive impact on their future and, in turn, result in safer and more harmonious communities.

“Drink Think will deliver information sessions to all relevant Housing Executive employees to ensure they are fully aware of the referral process and the benefits of the programme for tenants and their local communities.”

Figures show that 148 people aged 18 plus were referred to Derry City Council for breaching street drinking byelaws in 2012/13. In addition to this, 53 per cent of people arrested in the Foyle area in 2012 had consumed alcohol.

These figures were collated by Derry City Council prior to the new Derry City and Strabane District Council being created.