COUNCILLOR Joy Allen of Durham County Council has won a national award for her work tackling underage drinking. She was presented with the Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) Award for outstanding contribution by an individual for her exceptional and dedicated work as chair of the Bishop Auckland Alcohol Partnership.

Cllr Allen received the award at an online event on Wednesday to launch CAP’s national annual report and highlight the resilience and determination of local communities to tackle alcohol harm among young people and improve their health and wellbeing during this challenging time.

Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison said: “As the chair of the Bishop Auckland Alcohol Partnership, Joy Allen has shown exceptional leadership by inspiring partners and focussing on the benefits the partnership brings to the community. “She has worked tirelessly and with great dedication to improve the lives of young people in Bishop Auckland. This award for outstanding contribution by an individual is richly deserved.”

Cllr Allen first became involved with CAP in 2017 when she was a senior figure in the multi-agency Alcohol Harm Reduction Team. She actively supported the establishment of the partnership and encouraged the community to get involved.

Since then she has sourced funding for educational activities for local young people; engaged with local retailers, schools, police and trading standards and been active on social media to publicise the partnership.

According to a citation, despite the challenges of lockdown, Cllr Allen “remained determined that the partnership would play an active role in Alcohol Awareness Week by raising awareness of the dangers of misusing alcohol and promoting low or alcohol-free alternatives”.

Supermarkets across the town, which are active members of the partnership, got involved with in-store marketing and promotion.

Officers from Durham Police distributed leaflets warning about the penalties for buying alcohol for under 18s and used a stencil to spray chalk paint messages outside store entrances.

Up to 214 CAP schemes have now been launched throughout the country. They are made up of partnerships between retailers, local authorities, police, schools, neighbourhood groups and health providers, working together to empower communities to tackle alcohol-related harm to young people and improve their health and wellbeing.

The CAP annual report, launched at the online event, shows how this innovative partnership approach has brought significant reductions in alcohol supply to children, alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and underage street drinking in areas where CAP has set up local partnerships.

CAP chair Derek Lewis said: “Like many organisations, CAP has been hit hard by Covid.

“Nevertheless, the power of the partnership model to respond to changing circumstances and innovate has never been more clearly demonstrated. The examples in this report show how, despite the pandemic, CAPs have found creative ways to protect young people from alcohol harm and promote their health and wellbeing.”