Hart and Basingstoke District Councils

Summer 2015

The challenge

Hart and Basingstoke in Hampshire commissioned TCC to help reduce levels of at-risk drinking. Alcohol consumption was higher than average in the two neighbouring districts, but different in character to more widely talked about forms of at-risk drinking. Rather than being teen drinking, binge-drinking, or ‘pre-loading’, the issue was with home drinking. It often came from middle-aged, reasonably affluent demographics; time-poor commuters with stressful jobs, who drank behind closed doors.

How we approached it

We conducted face-to-face quantitative research with 800 residents, followed by peer-led experimental interventions. The key motivations which came up included the stress of work and absence of a work-life balance. Many of those most at-risk were Prospectors (the values group driven by status and esteem), so we focused many of our interventions on social norms. We used digital tools like WhatsApp so that the workshoppees could stay in contact. This gave an element of light competition – chiming with Prospector values – but also a sense of teamwork and support.

What happened

As our interventions we ran focused on female partners, who were often the more reluctant party. We knew for our research that total abstinence would not work, so instead we focused on ratio based rules like ‘5:2’ or time based ones like ‘after 8’. This built on the ‘cutting down’ style approaches people were already taking – rather than asking them to go cold turkey.

The final pilot, ‘Let’s measure up’ was a home-targeted, female-orientated peer-to-peer intervention focusing on partner influence. Preliminary results show an 80% reduction rate, and the two councils are now looking at rollout options.