Funding to help binge drinking under-25s

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ALCOHOL support workers battling with some of the highest levels of binge drinking in the country have been given almost £120,000 to help young people who regularly drink heavily.

The Sheffield Alcohol Support Service (SASS) will receive the cash over the next three years from Comic Relief, after it was revealed the city had the seventh worst binge drinking rate in Britain.

Its project will pay for a specialist worker to support anyone under 25 who drinks excessively, and will work with local youth and family services to target at risk students, families and teenagers.

Sheffield is recognised as the binge drinking capital of Yorkshire according to service workers, who yesterday welcomed the funding.

The service’s chief executive, Josie Soutar, said: “We decided to develop this project after seeing an increase in younger people accessing our services.

“SASS has a good track record of success and already provides family crisis interventions as well as training, rehab and recovery support.

“The young person’s alcohol worker will be a really valued addition to our services and the alcohol support across the city.”

According to the Centre for Public Health, alcohol consumption in the UK is up by nine per cent, with binge drinkers putting unprecedented pressure on the NHS, police and social services.

Ms Soutar said the project at SASS would start in the new year and “couldn’t come at a better time” as the city’s chronic binge drinking problems were revealed by national statistics.

She added: “Drinking is such a large part of our culture that young people are forever under pressure to drink excessively.

“There are excellent services in the city for young teenagers and SASS has provided help for the more entrenched drinker.

“However there was a real lack of support for those during the transition from teenager to adult, those most susceptible to binge drinking.”