The First Stop Bus will be out and about in the community this month encouraging people to take part in Dry January.
Dry January is a national campaign from Alcohol Concern and Public Health England that encourages people to take a month off from alcohol and enjoy the many benefits of having a break from the booze.
Dry January participants often report losing weight, sleeping better, having more energy and clearer skin, plus the benefit of significant savings. Support will be in the form of regular emails with tips, help and advice, and people can share their experience and ideas via social media.
People can participate in Dry January without any need to fundraise, although they are welcome to raise sponsorship money. Sign up to the challenge here www.dryjanuary.org.uk
The First Stop Bus will be stationed at various locations around the town, including:
- Royal Berkshire Hospital, 5th January near the A&E entrance from 10am to 4pm
- Broad Street, 6th January, outside the Oracle entrance from 10am to 4pm
- Reading University Campus, 11th January, by the Drama Department from 11am to 2pm
Experts will be on hand to offer help and advice on alcohol consumption and motivation for getting through Dry January.
If residents are looking for help to get active in the New Year, the council’s Healthy Walks Programme Co-ordinator will be on the bus offering information on the programme of walks available in 2016.
An advisor from Smokefreelife Berkshire will also be aboard the bus offering advice to people on quitting smoking. This free service provides 12 weeks support, 1:1 motivational and group work support with a professionally qualified smoking cessation advisor, and free nicotine replacement therapy. People can also contact the service on free phone: 0800 622 6360, text QUIT 66777 or visit: www.smokefreelifeberkshire.com
People who are worried about their drinking or smoking habits can also get support from their GP surgery.
Reading’s Mayor, Cllr Sarah Hacker is taking the Dry January Challenge. She said: “I’m taking the challenge to help raise awareness of the health benefits of taking a break from alcohol. Most people enjoy a social drink or two but it can be all too easy to slip into the habit of regularly drinking more than the recommended safe amount. Stopping for a while can help you re-evaluate your drinking habits.
“I encourage people to join me and sign up at www.dryjanuary.org.uk, potentially loose a few excess pounds and make a saving into the bargain. You won’t be alone – last year over 2 million people in the UK took part, and there is plenty of support and advice available.”
Dr Helen George, a GP from Melrose Surgery, Reading, said: “The health benefits of cutting out (or cutting down) on alcohol, are immense. As well as improving your general health in the short term, longer term, re-evaluating your alcohol consumption can have a far reaching effect, helping to avoid serious health conditions, such as cancer, coronary heart disease and liver disease.”
People can find advice and a helpful unit calculator at www.alcoholconcern.org.uk
Notes to editors
- The media are invited to a photo call with the Mayor of Reading at the First Stop Bus on Wednesday 6th January in Broad Street at 12pm by the entrance to the Oracle.
- Watch a video of Dr George talking about the benefits of Dry January here: https://youtu.be/wM8ZXQut-yA
North and West Reading Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), South Reading CCG and Reading Borough Council are jointly promoting Dry January.
- In Reading, it is estimated that some 30,000 people are drinking alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels (that is above the recommended daily limit) and some 4,500 are drinking at ‘harmful’ levels (that is at levels that is causing harm to physical and/or mental health). Alcohol-related healthcare costs in Reading were an estimated around £7.2m, equating to £57 per adult.
- Alcohol is one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesity. Deaths from liver disease have reached record levels, rising by 20 per cent in a decade.
How much is too much? Know your units
- Binge drinking is defined as drinking two or more times the recommended daily upper limit in any one day. The maximum recommended amount to drink each day is 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women.
- The alcoholic strength of a drink is measured in ‘units’. For example, a pint of normal strength beer (4%) contains 2.3 units, a large glass of wine (250mls) contains three units and a single measure of white spirits such as gin (37.5%), which is just 25mls, contains 0.9 units, whilst dark spirits, such as brandy and whiskey (40%) contains one unit.
- The number of people being admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions continues to increase and, for example, alcoholic liver disease is the few major causes of ill-health and death which is on the increase in England (whilst decreasing in other European countries) with deaths reaching record levels, having risen by 20% in the last ten years.