What is the Communities in Charge of Alcohol programme?

The Communities in Charge of Alcohol programme (CICA) is a community-centred approach to reducing alcohol harm. The programme recruits and trains networks of locally engaged and RSPH accredited ‘Alcohol Health Champions’ (AHCs) – local residents who learn skills to address issues around alcohol misuse in their communities.

Alcohol Health Champions are trained to:

  • Provide bespoke advice to people who need support with alcohol misuse

  • Champion local action on alcohol availability, including influencing licensing decisions.

Alcohol Health Champion training includes a two-day training programme in the cascade (‘train-the-trainer’) model, designed by RSPH and the Greater Manchester collaboration partners. Everyone who completes the training is awarded an RSPH Level 2 Award in Understanding Alcohol Misuse and is then equipped to carry out alcohol awareness-raising activities in their area.

What does the Communities in Charge of Alcohol programme achieve?

The CICA programme aims to engage as many people as possible in the areas where Health Champions are based. Prospective Alcohol Health Champions are recruited through local authority and community networks, to ensure people who have the best knowledge about their local area attend the training.

As well as teaching Alcohol Health Champions about how to support people affected by alcohol harms, the training also covers how to address alcohol issues in the community, how to organise a local event and how to run community activities.  Alcohol Health Champions also gain a recognised health improvement qualification, develop communication and leadership skills and gain experiences to add to their CV.

You can read about our offer to local authorities and the Greater Manchester CICA programme so far in our briefing paper.

What positive outcomes does the Alcohol Health Champions programme provide?

The CICA programme is the first alcohol health programme of its kind in the UK. To date, it has been rolled-out across nine out of ten Greater Manchester local authorities, and has helped to address and reduce the levels of alcohol harms across the city.

An evaluation of the first CICA programme showed the impact it had across the communities it was implemented in:

  • 123 Alcohol Health champions were trained across Greater Manchester

  • 249 Audit-Cs (an alcohol-harm assessment tool) were completed by Alcohol Health Champions

  • 65 community events organised to promote and support the programme.

As well as giving people the chance to receive an RSPH Level 2 Award in Understanding Alcohol Misuse, the programme aims to engage people with health improvement issue who have not had previous training or experience in healthcare. In the first CICA programme, 77% of Alcohol Health Champions were community volunteers with little previous experience of health improvement, who were trained to be able to spot alcohol misuse and support people to improve their relationship with alcohol.

Collaboration across the Communities in Charge of Alcohol programme

The Communities in Charge of Alcohol programme was only possible through a collaboration with Universities, local authorities and research institutions. The organisations that supported and worked with us on developing the programme are:

The programme was evaluated through funding by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health programme and through a collaboration between the University of Salford, the University of Bristol and the University of York. The University of Salford has put together a CICA evaluation hub where you can read the full evaluation, meet the CICA evaluation team and watch a short film about the programme.