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Major role for Glyndŵr Uni in £25m over-50s alcohol harm reduction project

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Glyndŵr University will play a major role in a £25million project aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm among the over 50s.

The Big Lottery Fund is investing the money into a prevention and awareness programme across five areas of the UK, in partnership with support charity Addaction. 

Rethink Good Health is a seven-year initiative targeting people aged 50 and over, a group that can find themselves drinking for a variety of reasons, such as retirement or an increasing problem of loneliness and isolation, according to a recent study from the International Longevity Centre and Independent Age.

Glyndŵr University will receive funding of £219,000 over five years and be responsible for evaluation of interventions in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) in South Wales. 

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that alcohol-related deaths are highest among men aged 60 to 64 years (42.6 deaths per 100,000 of the population) and women aged 55 to 59 years (22.2 deaths per 100,000).

The 2010 General Lifestyle Survey revealed that 20% of people aged 50 and over drink every day compared to 3% of 20-24 year olds. 

Dr Iolo Madoc-Jones, Head of Research in the Division of Social Science and Education at Glyndŵr, revealed the Wrexham-based University’s area of the project – entitled Drink Wise, Age Well - will be rolled out next summer and spearheaded by its new Justice and Social Inclusion Research Centre.

“The Glyndŵr commitment is to evaluate the impact of the interventions in RCT,” said Dr Madoc-Jones. 

“It will take up to nine months for Addaction to create and ready the infrastructure to deliver the interventions involved, but we will be involved at an early point to create the necessary evaluation measures.

“The project is of huge importance because it will provide a benchmark for future interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of older people in Wales who are at risk of developing alcohol problems.” 

Peter Ainsworth, chair of the Big Lottery Fund, added: “The last thing we want to do is to tell older people they can’t enjoy a relaxing drink with friends and family.

“With a lot of the current alcohol programmes geared towards younger people, we simply want to make sure that those over 50 are not neglected, are informed about the warning signs around alcohol problems and are able to find help if they need it. 

“Addaction will bring their wealth of knowledge and experience into leading Rethink Good Health, along with their partners across the UK, as we aim to reduce alcohol-related harm in older people and help them to live healthier, more active and independent lives.”

Simon Antrobus, chief executive of Addaction, revealed problem drinking doesn’t happen in isolation – there are always other factors involved. 

“This is especially true for the over 50s who can end up drinking at harmful levels as they face challenging life transitions such as retirement, the loss of a loved one or loneliness,” he said.

“We’ve called our programme Drink Wise, Age Well. It’s a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of these issues and improve access to information and treatment for the over 50s. Addaction is delighted to deliver this comprehensive programme, supported by the considerable commitment and expertise of our consortium partners.”

For more information, visit http://www.addaction.org.uk

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