West Berkshire Council

Public Health Blog

News and updates from West Berkshire Council's Public Health Team

Keeping you updated on health and wellbeing issues in West Berkshire, plus health improvement services and campaigns across the council and district. 

Our Public Health and Wellbeing Team is committed to reducing local health inequalities and supporting vulnerable groups. You can contact us or visit our Public Health page for more information.



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Alcohol Awareness Week - Last Orders

Written on: 1-11-2017

Our theme for today is young people.

The NHS advises children and young people not to drink alcohol before the age of 18. 

Alcohol use during the teenage years is related to a wide range of health and social problems.

However, if children do drink alcohol underage, it shouldn't be until they are at least 15.

In West Berkshire around 25 children each year are admitted to hospital for an alcohol specific condition.

They say that prevention is better than cure and we think that's true about alcohol.

We have been in schools this week with the Solomon Theatre, putting on a play called 'Last Orders' to year 9 pupils. Underage drinking and alcohol use are common factors that link anti-social behaviour, teenage pregnancy, STIs and illegal purchase of age restricted products.

Check out Drinkaware's five top tips for talking to your child about alcohol. We'd like to encourage you to Have a Word with your child. If you are worried about your child drinking, get in touch with your GP. You could also get in touch with The Edge who offer support across the whole of West Berkshire on alcohol and drugs for young people.

Ultimately, our children do not do as we say, they do as we do. If you want to prevent your children drinking underage the first thing you can do is look at your own drinking and possibly make changes.


Alcohol Awareness Week - Blue Light Project

Written on: 1-11-2017

Blue light

It's Friday so we're sure everyone is looking forward to their after-work pint. There's nothing wrong with having a drink at the end of the week but please don't over do it.

Alcohol related admissions to hospital are 70% higher on Saturdays than other days of the week. Nationally, up to 80% of weekend arrests, 35% of all ambulance journeys and 10% to 30% of all fires are alcohol related.

All these calls put pressure on our valuable blue light services and place a huge burden on the taxpayer. We've estimated that we've got 1,074 dependent drinkers in West Berkshire and of those around 250 will be regularly calling out blue light services. This costs us between £12 million and £15 million every year.

That's why we're working with Alcohol Concern to implement a Blue Light Project. Instead of relying on a person deciding they want to change, the Blue Light approach works intensively with a person who might not see their drinking as a problem, despite the pressure they put on public services. It looks at supporting the whole person rather than just focusing on their drinking and supports them into treatment.

Mike Ward from Alcohol Concern said "Our national Blue Light Project has shown that useful intervention is possible with this group of change resistant drinkers. The aim is to work across West Berkshire to develop a robust and coordinated approach to this client group, involving staff training, establishing a multi-agency group and evaluating the impact of our efforts, including cost savings."

That's all from us for Alcohol Awareness Week. We've hopefully encouraged you to think about your drinking and how drinking less could help you feel a lot better - even if you don't end up in A&E after a few too many!

 If you would like any more information please talk to your GP, call Drinkline or get in touch with Swanswell (West Berkshire's drug and alcohol service).


Alcohol Awareness Week - Have a Day Off

Are you enjoying #winewednesday, or can we persuade you to Have a Day Off?

Written on: 1-11-2017

Days Off

It's hump day so it can't just be us having a stressful week and looking forward to a bit of #winewednesday?

Using alcohol to cope with stress is common. However, while the immediate effects of drinking can make you feel more relaxed, if you regularly drink more than the lower risk guidelines, your stress levels could soar.

That's because alcohol is a depressant and can interfere with the brain's function, causing low moods and anxiety. Even a few drinks, alcohol can interrupt your sleep pattern so you wake up feeling tired - which will only add to your stress levels the following day.

Public Health England is encouraging people to have Days Off and has launched an app to help you feel healthier, lose weight and save money - simply nominate days to take off drinking and get practical, daily support to help you stick to it.

Download the free app today to choose your Days Off and get reminders, support and practical advice. 

So instead of reaching for the bottle after a tough day, why not plan your Days Off and go for a walk, read a book or call someone you haven't spoken to in a while. We think that any of those things will feel just as good!

Tomorrow we'll be encouraging you to Have a Word with your kids about alcohol and telling you how we've been using drama to help children understand the dangers of underage drinking.

Alcohol Awareness Week - Thatcham Community Alcohol Partnership

Calling all Thatcham residents - the Community Alcohol Partnership wants to know if you have any concerns about alcohol where you live.

Written on: 1-11-2017

CAP logo

Alcohol misuse can have an impact on the whole community.

Not only can 50% of violent crime be attributed to alcohol, but alcohol related litter can make our parks and open spaces unwelcoming and unsafe spaces for children to play.

We want to work with communities to make them even better so that's why we're setting a Community Alcohol Partnership.

Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) run nationwide and are funded by the alcohol industry. They bring together local retailers and licensees, trading standards, police, health services, education providers and other local stakeholders to tackle the problem of underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour.

The CAP model is unique in that it recognises that retailers and licensees are part of the solution and has been shown to be more effective than traditional enforcement methods alone. Each CAP scheme operates in a clearly defined local community and draws on local partners to develop and implement delivery at grassroots level.

We've identified Thatcham, Tilehurst, Calcot and Theale as communities where we can work together to tackle underage drinking.

We're going to be kicking off our first CAP area in Thatcham soon and we're meeting this week with local stakeholders to start developing our action plan.

If you live in Thatcham, we want to know if there's anything worrying you about alcohol in your community so we would love you to complete ourPublic Perception survey.

It's #humpday tomorrow. Will you be having #winewednesday or can we persuade you to Have a Day Off?


Alcohol Awareness Week - Have a Word!

Written on: 1-11-2017


On the whole us boozy Brits love a drink and in West Berkshire we're no different. A recent study by Public Health England showed that 22% of us drink on four or more days of the week - that's higher than any other area surveyed.

It's not easy to talk about our drinking. That's why during Alcohol Awareness Week, the Alcohol Harm Reduction Partnership have taken over the Public Health and Wellbeing blog to try and get everyone in West Berkshire to Have a Word. We're also going to tell you what we're doing to get people talking about drinking.

We've all probably heard by now that the NHS guidelines recommend that we don't drink any more than 14 units but in West Berkshire 30% of us regularly go above that.

Drinking more than we should isn't just bad for our liver. Did you know that higher levels of alcohol consumption are linked to all kinds of health issues such as obesity and cancer?

It's not all doom and gloom! Drink a little less, feel a lot better.

People who have reduced their alcohol intake have reported sleeping better, clearer skin and feeling happier. That all goes a long way in improving your chances for a happy and healthy life.

We've hired Alcohol Concern to train 450 staff from the council, other public sector organisations and voluntary organisations in West Berkshire to Have a Word about alcohol with the aim of encouraging people to drink a little less and feel a lot better, so don't be surprised if someone other than your GP wants to talk about drink.

If you would like to find out if you need to drink a little less to feel a lot better, you can take Drinkaware's Self Assessment, talk to your GP, call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or get in touch with Swanswell (West Berkshire's drug and alcohol service).


Who To Contact

Contact details for West Berkshire's Public Health and Wellbeing Team

01635 519973