YWCA Auckland launched Safe for Life in April 2015, with workshops being delivered in Takapuna, Auckland central and Manukau.
Before the launch, we interviewed over 100 women and agencies in Auckland, and alcohol issues were commonly raised as an area of growing concern. We responded by incorporating safe alcohol messaging into the Safe for Life workshops to raise awareness around alcohol consumption, particularly around high risk drinking behaviours, and to improve alcohol-related health literacy, for example, how to avoid acute alcohol-related harm.
Safe for Life is a three-hour workshop designed to educate young people on skills and strategies to keep out of harm’s way. It is a unique workshop aimed primarily at young people to ensure they do not get into compromised or risky situations, including those fuelled by excessive alcohol consumption.
This integration is proving popular and effective. The three key messages revolve around understanding the Standard Drinks system, the importance of eating to help control the effects of alcohol and why, and the four stages of intoxication and how they relate to personal safety within different contexts.
Safe for Life workshops have four stages:
Recognition, awareness and avoidance (of potentially risky situations and the role alcohol consumption can play in leading to risky situations)
De-escalation – de-escalation strategies when confronted or placed in a dangerous situation
Defence – if absolutely required as a last resort
Post event issues – addresses the often neglected ‘aftermath’ of bad situations.
Safe for Life is unique in the way it approaches skills and strategies for people to keep out of harm’s way. It is taught in a supportive, positive and professional manner, and the alcohol messaging is embedded – not centre stage – so younger audiences get the benefit of a self-protection for life programme with alcohol messaging and examples seamlessly woven through the course. Participants learn crucial life lessons they can take back to their friends, families and wider communities.
Safe for Life is a powerful example of effective cross-agency collaboration. Workshops are delivered in conjunction with Phil Thompson, Director of Protect Self Defence. In addition, to ensure our messaging around alcohol use is appropriate, we have collaborated with Ben Birks Ang, National Youth Services Adviser at New Zealand Drug Foundation. Ben is a social worker and drug and alcohol practitioner, who has been working with Odyssey House since 2006, leading the development of community youth-centred alcohol and drug programmes.
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