The What, Who and How of SAFER Maynooth?
Safer Maynooth is a project within the South West Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force’s Safer Communities Program.
SAFER is an acronym used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for five high impact strategic actions on reducing alcohol harm:
– Strengthen restrictions on alcohol availability.
– Advance and enforce drink driving countermeasures.
– Facilitate access to screening, brief interventions, and treatment.
– Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion.
– Raise prices on alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advocates community-action to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm, arguing that community leadership and locally based action is key to building healthier communities and reducing the levels of harm currently being experienced at the local level.
The publication of the National Drug and Alcohol Strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’ (2017) outlined a clear policy commitment to the further development of community action on alcohol in Ireland. The Programme supports the implementation of recommendations under Goal 4 of the Strategy ‘Support participation of individuals, families and communities’. Action 1.1.1 explicitly commits to ‘promoting the use of evidence-based approaches to mobilising community action on alcohol’.
The aim of SAFER Maynooth is to create awareness of and where possible reductions in rates of problem drinking, underage drinking and alcohol-related harm.
How it operates
Here in Maynooth, the programme works with the support of the Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force who coordinate a small committee from a broad range of organisations at a local level including Maynooth Community Council, Gardai, Maynooth University Students Union and Youth organisations, who work on a local action plan using a community mobilisation approach as outlined in the diagram below.
Wagemaar et al (2000), Holder (2004), Gloppen et al (2012), Shaekshaft et al (2014)
To date plans have focused on a number of strategies including raising awareness in schools, policing safety measures at uunderage events, providing alternate alcohol free activities, as well as actions aimed at reducing consumption in public areas and, promoting alcohol reduction measures and safer socializing.
Local action alone won’t significantly reduce binge drinking and related harms, such as violent assaults, hidden harm, and road accidents without changes to legislation and population wide public health measures.
Based on this understanding, the committee supports communities to understand, support and advocate for wider changes including the implementation of the measures in the Public Health Alcohol Act.
Given the historical pattern of problematic drinking in Ireland and the normalisation of alcohol harm, a key aim of the project is to empower communities and to tap into their potential as effective agents of change.
Who can participate?
Any community member/organisation with an interest in getting involved by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org