Why health chiefs want drinkers in South Tyneside to give up booze for a month

L-R: Emma Forster, Project Support Officer at Balance; Lee Picton, South Shields Football Club, Blair Adams, South Shields Football Club; Cllr Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing at South Tyneside Council; Tom Hall, Director of Public Health; Steve Camm, South Shields Football Club Foundation Manager.
L-R: Emma Forster, Project Support Officer at Balance; Lee Picton, South Shields Football Club, Blair Adams, South Shields Football Club; Cllr Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing at South Tyneside Council; Tom Hall, Director of Public Health; Steve Camm, South Shields Football Club Foundation Manager.

People in South Tyneside are being urged to ditch the booze and take part in Dry January.

The challenge involves people giving up alcohol for a month with one in 10 drinkers in the region already saying they will be taking part.

It is a chance to break the feeling of relying on a drink, give our bodies a chance to recover, and to feel fitter.

Colin Shevills

The move is also aimed at helping people to improve their health as well as cut down on their overall drinking throughout the year.

Colin Shevills, Director of anti-alcohol abuse group Balance, said: “Drinking can often creep up on people into a daily habit and more than one in four people in the North East are drinking above the guidelines of 14 units a week.

“We’re encouraging people to get family, friends and colleagues on board too. It can be a real motivating factor taking on a challenge together and we know that it can make us more likely to succeed.

“Every year it feels like more and more people we know are taking part in Dry January. It is a chance to break the feeling of relying on a drink, give our bodies a chance to recover, and to feel fitter. But it is great to see so many people feeling the benefits well beyond January and still drinking less than they were six months on.”

Recent research by the University of Sussex with 800 Dry January participants found people were taking more drink free days; 88% save money; 80% felt more in control of their drinking; 71% realised they don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves; 58% lost weight and 70% had generally improved health.

Coun Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “After the buzz of the Christmas season, this campaign gives people the opportunity to start a new year feeling even healthier and happier.

“Dry January also gives people the chance to take stock of their drinking and can help them to re-set their relationship with alcohol in the future. We know many people who take part in the campaign find they drink less further down the line which demonstrates the long-term value of the campaign and fits with our own refreshed alcohol strategy of encouraging people to drink less and to find other ways of relaxing and having fun.”

People can sign up for Dry January at dryjanuary.org.uk, or by downloading app ‘Try Dry: The DryJanuary app’ via the App Store or Google Play. The app allows people to track units, calories and money saved not drinking, plus track their drinking year-round.

Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, said: “Put simply, Dry January can change lives. We hear every day from people who took charge of their drinking using Dry January, and who feel healthier and happier as a result, many of them making permanent life changes.”

Dry January is endorsed by Public Health England.