Scotch Whisky Action Fund – learning from experience and planning for the future

01 Dec 2016

Helping local groups in Scotland tackle alcohol misuse

An audience in Glasgow this week heard how the Scotch Whisky Action Fund helps projects fight alcohol misuse in Scotland. Organisations shared experiences of their work carried out using grants they have been awarded and discussed the lessons that can be learned for future initiatives. 

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) set up the £500,000 Scotch Whisky Action Fund in December 2013 to give a total of £100,000 each year to 2018 to projects working to reduce harm in Scotland. The fund, which extends the SWA's commitment to addressing alcohol misuse and promoting responsible drinking, is managed by Foundation Scotland, an independent charity.

An event was held recently (29 November) at the Trades Hall in Glasgow to share key learning and experiences from organisations benefiting from the fund. The audience, made up of voluntary organisations, members of the Scotch Whisky industry and other interested groups, firstly heard from Dame Joan Stringer, chair of the Scotch Whisky Action Fund independent awards panel.

Dame Joan Stringer said:  "It's important to understand what has been achieved by the projects and the outcomes of their interventions. By sharing those experiences we can learn what works, what doesn't work and what the key challenges are."

The audience heard the experiences of some of the organisations that have received grants:

Projects working with families:

  • Voice of Carers Across Lothian (VOCAL) on its 'That's Life' alcohol prevention peer support programme for older carers.
  • Keep the Heid discussed its mindfulness based living and responsible awareness programme ia2ps (increased access to psychological support project.
  • Up-2-Us Ltd presented its parent and child change project.

Projects working with communities:

  • Orkney Alcohol Counselling and Advisory Services (OACAS) discussed its Pub Watch Rehabilitation Scheme.

Projects working with young people:

  • You Decide - Space Unlimited told the audience about how it helps young people play an active role in reducing alcohol related harm in Port Glasgow.
  • Granton Youth Centre on the north Edinburgh street work team.
  • Fuse Youth Café in Shettleston, Glasgow on its alcohol awareness project.

Rachel Honeyman, senior care worker with VOCAL said that three out of five people are likely to become carers at some point in their lives. She explained that drinking alcohol can become a means of coping with difficult situations and That's Life works with individuals at risk of harmful consumption.

Gordon Culbert of Keep the Heid said that mindfulness can help parents of younger children understand the impact of alcohol misuse.

Olive Arens, manager of Up-2-Us Ltd explained how its project gives 'permission' to children to talk to volunteers and workers about their parents' drinking and everyone involved in the initiative said their life was better as a result.

Bob MacKenzie, offending prevention and rehabilitation worker with OACAS, said that a drinking culture affects communities. He acknowledged the problem of 'pre-loading' where people consume alcohol before going out in the evening which leads to issues for those individuals and pub licensees. His project is targeting local schools and colleges to help change this pattern of behaviour.

Owen Cook, project manager, You Decide - Space Unlimited, explained how young people were being supported to turn a concept into something on the ground so they themselves could help reduce alcohol-related harm in the area.

Kevin Ross, manager at Granton Youth Centre, discussed how its project delivers alcohol 'brief interventions on the street', engages with young people and collaborates with others.

And David Purcell, alcohol worker with Fuse Youth Café, said they provide information to young people to give them confidence to speak to parents about alcohol and to help them make their own choices about drinking when they are older.

Summing up the event, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird, said: "Today's speakers showed the passion, effort and hard work behind their projects. And I would like to add that partnership working to tackle alcohol misuse is important to the entire Scotch Whisky industry."

The Scotch Whisky Action Fund will re-open for applications from January 2017.


Notes to editors
SWA media contact: Rosemary Gallagher, head of communications, 0131 222 9230/07432 605385 or email

For information on the Action Fund visit

For more information on the Scotch Whisky Association /what-we-do/alcohol-society/scotch-whisky-action-fund/