New Drug and Alcohol Community Network for East Belfast

East Belfast Drug and Alcohol Network
A new quarterly networking opportunity for community stakeholders with an interest in addressing drug and alcohol-related challenges in East Belfast, met for the first time on Friday 21 June in East Belfast Network Centre. Facilitated by EBCDA, with support from ASCERT, BDACT (Belfast Drug and Alcohol Connections Team), and EastSide Partnership, it aims to focus on three overarching themes in relation to drug and alcohol:
Imagination – discussion of new policy changes, ideas, ways of addressing challenges
Participation – looking at participation in and awareness of local support services, and seeing where the gaps are
Celebration – Positive affirmation of recovery, highlighting successful projects or achievements
This network meeting focussed on effective prevention work in relation to alcohol consumption to tie in with alcohol awareness week. The session began with a discussion on what effective prevention should look like. This was followed by a presentation on the Icelandic Prevention Model - which greatly reduced substance abuse amongst young people in Iceland over a twenty year period using a series of locally-determined interventions underpinned by three pillars of: evidence-based practice; a community-based approach; and dialogue among research, policy and practice. The network will continue to have a focus on positive stories of recovery and successful support. At this meeting there was an interview with a local woman who had overcome struggles with alcohol to become an effective advocate for preventative programmes.

The morning finished with attendees discussing case studies which explored how to respond to alcohol-related need, and where to signpost to. People who attended spoke positively about the participative format of the meeting, the skills in the room, and the open and positive attitudes of all stakeholders present. For more information on the network contact Jonny Currie at jonny@ebcda.org or Davina Kelly at davina@ebcda.org. The next network meeting will take place at the end of September.