Free water in pubs scheme launched ‘to reduce alcohol-related A&E visits’

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags West sussex

The pilot project at Moka nightclub in Crawley
The pilot project at Moka nightclub in Crawley
West Sussex pubs, clubs and bars are being encouraged to become ‘water angels’ to help reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and A&E visits.

Licensed premises in the county are being urged to make it as easy as possible for 18-24 year olds on a night out to get access to free drinking water.

The Water Angel scheme was launched yesterday (28 October) by West Sussex County Council’s Public Health team ahead of Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs 17-23 November.

The initiate – though to be the first of its kind in the UK – was introduced following a pilot at Moka nightclub in Crawley, which saw models dressed in angel wings hand shots of water from water packs to clubbers.

Smaller venues are being asked to introduce water coolers to make sure customers can keep topped up.

'Positive effect'

Adam Foxley, general manager at Moka, said: “The events went really well. The concept was to offer people the chance to have a great night whilst drinking safely by remembering to drink water in between their alcoholic beverages.

“We had models dressed with angel wings and they helped get the safer drinking message across. We would definitely encourage other venues to incorporate this concept into the nights as it only had a positive effect.”

A council spokeswoman said local pub watch schemes have since been in touch to find out more about the scheme.

The authority said recent local health research found that 18-24 years olds often forget to drink water on nights out and that it was sometimes seen as a sign of weakness by their peers. It said surveys also showed that having to queue at the bar for water was another barrier.

'Real benefits'

West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for community wellbeing Christine Field said: “This is about making it easier for young adults to drink more water, and in so, doing helping them to pace their drinking and avoid a hangover.

“Local young adults have told us that they often forget to drink water on nights out, and that having to queue at a bar and ask for a glass of water is a barrier – so why not take the water to them?

“It is a simple idea but could have real benefits both for the health and safety of young adults and venues – and their local communities - where it could lead a reduction in anti-social behaviour.”

The scheme has been backed by Sussex Police.

Licensing and public safety manager Jean Irving said: “I think Water Angels is a great idea. Anything that dilutes the effects of alcohol is a very positive step forward. We welcome any initiative that can help to prevent drunken anti-social behaviour.”

A Water Angel website​ and Facebook page​ has been set up with messages about safer drinking.

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