Sharing best practice:
We launch new guidance on supporting Punjabi people with alcohol problems
We pride ourselves on providing evidence-based, high quality services to help change behaviour and change lives. With 40 years’ experience our work has always adapted to the changing needs of the communities we serve.
In 2016 we identified a rising concern locally: the high number of middle-aged Punjabi men presenting to Accident and Emergency departments with serious alcohol-related liver conditions that should have had earlier detection. From 2016 – 2019, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, we ran the Shanti Project, an alcohol service initiative within the Punjabi community– the first of its kind in the UK.
Today we launch new guidance on setting up a specialist project for people from the Punjabi community with alcohol problems. The guidance, developed by Aquarius with researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Birmingham, is based on the evaluation and learnings of the Shanti project.
“Far more attention is needed to support our diverse communities and to determine the most effective ways of supporting people, and their families.”
Professor Galvani, Professor of Social Research and Substance Use at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “There is dearth of research into the specific needs of people in minority ethnic communities who may be using alcohol and other drugs problematically. Far more attention is needed to support our diverse communities and to determine the most effective ways of supporting people, and their families. As one community member told me, there is a habit of “parachuting in ‘white’ services” and expecting that to work.”
Shanti aimed to increase recognition and understanding of alcohol problems and alcohol services within this Punjabi community, leading to an increase in alcohol service access by those with an alcohol problem. We found that Sikh TV and radio channels and other social media outlets were particularly effective in disseminating information to the community. The project was also designed so that frontline alcohol professionals and community facilitators would have improved awareness of alcohol, the Shanti service and the knowledge to refer people to specialist services.
Richard McVey, Aquarius’ Head of Service, said: “It is really important that all alcohol and drug services listen to the particular needs of our diverse communities. We must avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To do this, partnership with the community from the outset is vital.”
The guidance includes resources for planning and delivering any project with people and key agencies from the Punjabi community from the outset; understanding cultural and religious norms, committing time for building relationships of trust with community partners, involving people with lived experience, being prepared to develop new models and partnerships where needed, and understanding the key role of multi-agency and partnership working underpinned by trust, integrity, honesty and transparency from the service.
“We must avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To do this, partnership with the community from the outset is vital.”
Report co-author, Dr Surinder Guru, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said: “Drinking within the Punjabi community is very gendered. Heavy drinking by men is common practice but women’s drinking is frowned upon. This creates tensions in families and women can suffer rejection and shame within the community and family. The original research underpinning Shanti showed that young Punjabi people notice this unequal treatment of men and women and see it as unfair. We need to give attention to women’s drinking and the impact of men’s drinking on women and children with the Punjabi community.”
“We need to give attention to women’s drinking and the impact of men’s drinking on women and children with the Punjabi community.”
The research was also discussed during the BBC Asian Network’s Big Debate – click here to listen. Identifying local community needs, forming a project to deal with these needs, and then passing on best practice has always been a top priority for Aquarius. We hope that this report will inspire other projects, and we look forward to reaching out to more community groups across the Midlands who may benefit from specialist support.
Access the full guidance: Supporting Punjabi People with Alcohol Problem