Only one brave soul attacked the liquid refreshments at our presentation at a fringe event during the Tory party conference in Birmingham. I watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down in the second row as he guiltily sipped away. Turns out he was a police man, and his wife works with recovery alcoholics.
The room wasn’t quite as packed as at the Labour party conference, but the debate was livelier. This was in part thanks to the lovely Fiona Bruce MP, Member of Parliament for Congleton, who had not only read our draft report, but had plenty to say about it too. Clearly engaged with the subject, Fiona founded the “The Foundry Shop,” a high street advice centre offering help with legal, debt, alcohol and drug issues funded by a charity shop linked to her church.
There was much talk about how Britain is good at treating people at the extreme end of the alcohol dependency spectrum, but not so good at supporting people headed in that direction, with the result that too many end up in the same place. “We have to review how we look at supporting families where there are issues around alcohol,” said Bruce.
Much agreement too that the middle class is somewhat in denial about the impact on their own health and families of heavy alcohol consumption.
Some interesting points by Fiona, who spoke of “relational poverty” as people focus on other things such as work. She said people are too quick to see relationships as broken down, when with a bit of effort they could be repaired. Instead, people seek comfort in other areas, be it material things or drugs and alcohol.