Drinkaware funded project shows youngsters how to side step alcohol misuse

‘Side Stepping Alcohol Misuse’, an alcohol awareness project run by London Active Communities and Premier Rugby, is due to kick off across the country this month after receiving £100,000 funding from the charity, Drinkaware.

The ground-breaking new youth inclusion project will see specially trained community staff from Premiership Rugby Clubs and local youth workers deliver sports-based alcohol education to young people aged 13 to 19. The programme will target hard to reach and disadvantaged communities in 12 areas, including Newcastle, Leeds and London.

‘Side Stepping Alcohol Misuse’ is unique because it mixes traditional rugby training with alcohol education to encourage young people to think carefully about alcohol and its effects in a new and interesting way. Techniques employed by community staff and local youth workers will mix traditional rugby training with quiz-style questions on alcohol, warm-up relays and the use of specially designed beer goggles which, when worn, impair vision in a similar way to alcohol.

Designed to support larger scale projects with a national influence, the Big Impact Award of up to £100,000 is Drinkaware’s largest grant and ‘Side Stepping Alcohol Misuse’ is the only project to have received this level of funding to date. The charity’s grants programme supports a diverse range of pioneering and creative projects which aim to reduce alcohol misuse and make a tangible change in local communities across the country.

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, says:

“The earlier young people have alcohol, the more likely they are to binge drink in their teenage years and develop alcohol problems later in life – which is why it’s imperative young people put off drinking for as long as possible. Changing young people’s attitudes and behaviours towards drinking can be a difficult task but teaming sports with alcohol education is a great way to help get the message across.

“‘Side Stepping Alcohol Misuse’ is an innovative approach to educating disaffected areas of our society about alcohol and Drinkaware is extremely proud to be funding such a pioneering project. Like all of our grants programmes, we look forward to seeing the results and sharing good practice to help advance alcohol education.”

Premier Rugby’s club community staff and local youth providers underwent intense training to be able to deliver the programme this month. ‘Side Stepping Alcohol Misuse’ is underpinned by six core alcohol messages for young people: the effects of alcohol on physical and mental health; harm minimisation; anti-social behaviour; units and sensible drinking; alcohol and safety and the consequences of drinking to excess. Part of the training was also extended to under 20 and youth players at Premier Rugby’s clubs to educate them about the effects of drinking to excess – while also reminding them of their responsibilities as role models and ambassadors for their clubs.

Dan Ward-Smith of London Wasps said, “As athletes, we have had a good deal of education on what alcohol is and what it does to your body. It is important that we pass this knowledge on to young people and show how it could affect their health, their judgement and their relationships.”

Gary Stannett, Chief Executive of London Active Communities said "Addressing alcohol issues with young people can sometimes be difficult, particularly when working in hotspots noted for high levels of disengaged young people. However, we are confident that incorporating high profile sports brands and sport-based techniques into education plans will prove a successful way of engaging these young boys and girls".


For more information please contact:

Becky Medhurst, Communications Officer, 020 7307 7453 or 078 2797 1740

[email protected]


·      ‘Side Stepping Alcohol Misuse’ is being rolled out this month in the following areas and by the following rugby clubs:

-     Bath, Bath RFC

-     Gloucester, Gloucester RFC

-     London, Harlequins

-     Leeds, Leeds RFC

-     Leicester, Leicester Tigers

-     London, London Irish

-     Windsor/Aylesbury/Wycombe, London Wasps

-     Northampton, Northampton Saints

-     Newcastle/Northumbria, Newcastle Falcons

-     Stockport/Manchester, Sale Sharks

-     Watford/St Albans/Luton ,Saracens

-     Worcester, Worcester Warriors

·      Drinkaware ( provides consumers with information to make informed decisions about the effects of alcohol on their lives and lifestyles. Our public education programmes, grants, expert information, and resources help create awareness and effect positive change. An independent charity established in 2007, Drinkaware works with the medical profession, the alcohol industry, government and independent members to achieve its goals.

·      Drinkaware Grants are currently available to organisations working with under-18s and 25-44 year olds in any part of the UK. Charities and community and other voluntary organisations can apply for funding towards new and existing projects, as well as piloting new ideas that have wider potential. There are three levels of award:

-      Ideas Fund, up to £2,000 - ideal for community-based projects needing support to develop an initial idea before applying for a larger award;

-      Awareness Projects, up to £25,000 – for larger projects that undertake direct, hands-on work with individuals and the community;

-      Big Impact Awards, up to £100,000 - designed to help larger-scale projects with a national influence.

Drinkaware Grants form part of the charity’s public education programme which aims to change British drinking culture by engaging consumers with impactful information. For further information on Drinkaware Grants, including eligibility criteria, visit, call 020 7307 7450 or email [email protected].

·      Active Communities Network (formerly London Active Communities) are specialists in delivering sports related youth inclusion programmes to difficult to reach, disaffected communities.  Sport is used as an engagement tool and a wide variety of issues are delivered through it or in addition to it.  This includes training and education courses and entry into relevant volunteering schemes.  They also specialise in maximising partnerships in regions to deliver quality projects in a wide variety of fields.

·      Premier Rugby is the umbrella organisation created and owned by the top 12 professional rugby clubs in England. Premier Rugby is mandated to manage the clubs’ central rights, most notably their broadcast contracts and central sponsor programme and to run the league in which those teams play; The Guinness Premiership. Premier Rugby also manages central community programmes utilising club players and brands, enabling the regional and national delivery of community projects in areas such as health and social inclusion.


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