Dippers get wet to promote Blue Monday and Dry January

TAKING A DIP ... these hardy souls ventured into the sea at Sandhaven Beach, South Shields, to raise awareness of Dry January and Blue Monday.
TAKING A DIP ... these hardy souls ventured into the sea at Sandhaven Beach, South Shields, to raise awareness of Dry January and Blue Monday.

DIPPERS braved the icy North Sea to encourage people to ditch the booze and help banish the blues this month.

About 20 people gathered at Sandhaven Beach in South Shields and plunged into the sea to show their commitment to the Dry January and Blue Monday campaigns taking place this month.

South Tyneside Council’s libraries and public health teams joined forces with local community and voluntary organisations - including the Happiness and Wellbeing Network, Groundwork and the Youth Parliament - to raise awareness of the initiatives throughout the Borough.

Among those taking part was Rob Braines, a volunteer with the South Tyneside Happiness and Wellbeing Network, which shares and develops ideas to contribute to the improvement of mental health, happiness and wellbeing.

He said: “The third Monday in January, which is known as Blue Monday, is traditionally seen as the day when people’s spirits are low because Christmas is over and the bills can be mounting up.

“To help show our support for Blue Monday, and Dry January, which aims to challenge people to stop drinking alcohol for a month, we thought it would be a good idea to spread happiness and support for each other.

“A sea dip was suggested and from then on everybody has got on board.

“The idea of Blue Monday is to put on a lot of feelgood events and activities for people to take part in, and one way of raising awareness of these events was to take part in the dip.

“The dip certainly helped local people to feel connected and built on the community spirit in South Tyneside.

“I’m sure this will help to boost people’s overall feeling of wellbeing and combat the blues that many feel at this time of year.”

Coun Moira Smith, lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “We know that alcohol is linked to depression, and the more people drink alcohol the more depressed they can feel.

“We’re keen to support Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign and Blue Monday.

“We know that long-term alcohol misuse is a major risk factor for a wide range of serious conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease and cancer.

“As well as health problems, long-term alcohol misuse can lead to social problems such as unemployment, divorce, domestic abuse and homelessness.

“South Tyneside has over a quarter of its adult population drinking more units than the weekly recommended limit.

“I believe we can make a real difference to improving health and wellbeing across the borough, and linking up with the third sector to support relevant campaigns is just one way of doing this.”

Now in its third year, Dry January aims to get people thinking and talking about their relationship with alcohol by abstaining for a month.

It’s hoped the benefits of the experience will encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles during the rest of the year.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is helping to raise awareness of Dry January and encourage participation across the region.

Director Colin Shevills said: “We know that here in the North East enough alcohol is sold for every drinker to be consuming too much.

“When you consider the fact that nine in 10 of those drinking above the recommended limits class themselves as light or moderate drinkers, it’s clear there’s scope for change in our attitude towards alcohol.

“Dry January allows people to stop and think about how much they are drinking, and the impact it might be having on their lives.”

To sign up to Dry January, find out more about the campaign and access a wealth of support and advice, visit the Dry January website HERE.