A campaign to encourage safer drinking and reduce alcohol-related crime in Crawley has won a national award.
The Water Angels campaign was first launched in 2014 as a joint initative between Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council, with support from pubs.
The campaign has since grown more and more successful.
It is aimed at 18 to 24 year olds and aims to reduce alcohol-related harm, violence, crime and disorder and ambulance call-outs and A&E attendances, by encouraging people to drink water as part of their night out.
The campaign picked up an award at the 2017 National Association of Business Crime Partnerships Awards for promoting community safety, reducing public place violent crime and intoxication in licensed premises.
In December 2016, on what was expected to be the two busiest evenings in the run up to Christmas, the Water Angels were in the town centre handing out drinking water to revellers.
On these evenings, various scheme partners including Crawley and Gatwick Business Watch, Sussex Police, Crawley Borough Council Licensing and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, were also out helping to make Crawley an enjoyable and safe place.
A similar event is already being planned for the run up to Christmas this year.
Councillor Michael Jones, cabinet member for Community Engagement and Public Protection, said: “This is a well-deserved award for Crawley and Gatwick Business Watch and all the partners involved in bringing the Water Angels into Crawley.
“It has been such a pleasure to see such a great idea growing from strength to strength.
“The campaign has been well received by the public every time the Water Angels have been in the town centre so I’m particularly pleased to see they’ll be back this Christmas.”
Karen, Crawley and Gatwick Business Watch manager, said: “This campaign has focussed on Christmas because this is a time of year when people who do not usually go out drinking can become intoxicated.
“The campaign in Crawley is aimed at all ages and drinkers in all establishments, reflecting the town centre’s diverse night time economy.
“Crawley and Gatwick Business Watch Pubwatch members are actively encouraged to promote the safe drinking message throughout the year.
“Free tap water is always available and in warm weather some venues even consider giving out ice pops as an alternative.”
Research found that young adults often avoid drinking water on a night out because they don’t want to queue at the bar and miss out on fun with their friends.
It was also found that they often forget to drink water, sometimes just never getting round to it, or they see it as a sign of weakness.
Water Angel’s message is that by drinking water between alcoholic drinks out, people can stay out longer and help to prevent a hangover by staying hydrated.
To find out more about the campaign, the benefits of drinking water and some great hangover tips see Water Angels’ Twitter page www.twitter.com/waterangelUK or Facebook page www.facebook.com/WaterAngelUK.
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