Reporter Emma James spoke to charities planning to take part in Alcohol Awareness week, with a fresh alternative in Cafe Sobar taking a different approach.

Having a good time doesn’t always mean alcohol has to be involved, says a Nottingham alcohol-free cafe.

Alcohol Awareness Week starts on Monday (14 November), with the charity Alcohol Concern hoping to raise the importance of people knowing how much they drink and the damage it could cause to their health.

Each day is dedicated to the relationship between alcohol and different health conditions, including cancer, depression, dementia, breast cancer, diabetes, hypertension and brain damage.

Nottingham’s Cafe Sobar on Friar Lane, says such issues need to be raised in a positive way to help people see the “healthy alternative to an alcohol environment”.

Jason Loftus, the Marketing and Events Coordinator at the cafe, says: “It’s good to [highlight negative health issues] but I’m concerned that it has to be raised in a positive way as well as a negative way to give people an alternative overview picture.

“Just telling someone something is bad, it doesn’t mean they’re going to take that as the truth. Its good to highlight the negative issues but also the positive alternatives.”

The Cafe was set up by the Nottingham substance misuse, drug and alcohol charity Double Impact three years ago, with the aim to give people who may want to stay away from alcohol, or who may be in recovery, the option to “avoid temptation in an environment with where there is no alcohol and still have a good time”.

The Cafe is open to the public for an alcohol free alternative, with events regularly.
The Cafe is open to the public for an alcohol free alternative, with events regularly.

Mr Loftus’ view is that in a city such as Nottingham, people are still able to enjoy events without the need of alcohol.

“It’s not like we’re against alcohol but it just gives people an alternative environment for a night out or event without alcohol.

Such an alternative has seen the cafe’s success grow over the months with Sobar seeing record weeks of profits.

Mr Loftus said: “The message is getting out about what we do as a charity as well as an organisation –  it’s seen as a healthy alternative rather than charitable.”

Mr Loftus said: “We’re doing alcohol awareness sessions for the general public, which will run within the week if they would want to learn more about alcohol.

“We’re doing a big social media campaign on some of the issues around alcohol and we’re having an event at the end of the week called the ‘Sobar Social’ for musicians, poets and people who want to perform who have been in treatment themselves for alcohol addiction.”

Events run regularly throughout the month, with the Cafe also offering sessions throughout next week
Events run regularly throughout the month, with the Cafe also offering sessions throughout next week

National Charity ‘Change, Grow, Live (CGL)’, which has services across the county of Nottinghamshire, believes it’s important to “encourage people to think critically about the role that alcohol plays in their lives”.

Abigail Cox, Digital Marketing Manager, said: “It is widely known that excessive drinking can seriously damage health and have a deterimental impact on families and our communities, so it’s important to inform the public about the potential consequences of misusing alcohol and help people to make health informed decisions.”

DrinkAware, also endorses the message of Alcohol Awareness Week by providing information for schools to ensure the message doesn’t reach people too late on in life.

Rebecca Cooper, DrinkAware’s Media Communications Manager, said: “We endorse the message and of course, it’s important to ensure people know about the risk all year round but what we’re especially doing for alcohol awareness week is focusing on alcohol information for schools and focusing more on social media work.”

“By providing information for schools, we’re making sure teachers have the right information for pupils and the matter is being dealt with in PSHE lessons to Year 7 and 8, but not just limited to secondary schools.”

“We are ensuring information is available about the harm of alcohol and making sure people are not getting the information later on in life when it may be too late.”

CGL provides adult drug and alcohol services across Nottinghamshire. The New Directions service is open to anyone over the age of 18 living in Nottinghamshire, offering treatment and support in a range of community settings.

If you are experiencing issues around alcohol and/or drug use, please contact CGL’s team on 0115 896 0798 for more information or to make an appointment.