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£25 million to help over-fifties enjoy booze without the blues

A drink in later life can be one of life’s simple pleasures, but too many and the line between a harmless tipple and a more serious problem can become blurred. To help tackle the issue, the Big Lottery Fund is investing £25 million into an alcohol-related harm prevention and awareness programme for the over fifties, in partnership with support charity Addaction.

Rethink Good Health is a UK-wide programme aimed at those aged 50 and over, an age group that can find themselves drinking more for a variety of reasons, such as retirement or an increasing problem of loneliness and isolation, as the recent study from the International Longevity Centre and the charity, Independent Age, showed.

Other findings also make sobering reading. The most recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that alcohol-related deaths are highest among men aged 60 to 64 years (42.6 deaths per 100,000 population) and women aged 55 to 59 years (22.2 deaths per 100,000)1. The 2010 General Lifestyle Survey revealed that 20 per cent of people aged 50 and over drink every day compared to 3 per cent of 20-24 year olds.

The seven-year Rethink Good Health programme will support a variety of projects, with flagship work taking place in Glasgow, Sheffield, Devon, South Wales and Northern Ireland.In the long term, the programme will help inform policy and practice about preventing alcohol-related harm in later life, improve health and wellbeing of people aged 50 and over who are at risk of developing alcohol problems and help build more effective services aimed at alcohol-related issues.

Peter Ainsworth, Big Lottery Fund Chair, said: “The last thing we want to do is to tell older people they can’t enjoy a relaxing drink with friends and family. With a lot of the current alcohol programmes geared towards younger people, we simply want to make sure that those over 50 are not neglected, are informed about the warning signs around alcohol problems and are able to find help if they need it.

“Addaction will bring their wealth of knowledge and experience into leading Rethink Good Health, along with their partners across the UK, as we aim to reduce alcohol-related harm in older people and help them to live healthier, more active and independent lives.”

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive of Addaction, said: “Problem drinking doesn’t happen in isolation – there are always other factors involved. This is especially true for the over 50s who can end up drinking at harmful levels as they face challenging life transitions such as retirement, the loss of a loved one or loneliness.

“We’ve called our initiative ‘Drink Wise, Age Well’. It’s a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of these issues and improve access to information and treatment for the over 50s. Addaction is delighted to deliver this comprehensive programme, supported by the considerable commitment and expertise of our consortium partners.”

Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre UK, said: “There is no doubt that baby boomers are ‘behaving badly’, challenging preconceptions of what it means to be old and engaging in risky behaviours in terms of ‘drink, drugs and sex’.

“While drinking isn’t a problem per se, as a think tank that specialises in healthy ageing, we know that too much alcohol affects older people disproportionately and may have serious consequences for their physical and mental health and general wellbeing. Things can become particularly problematic, for example, when older people are on complex medication regimes and then drink too much. At best this may make their drugs temporarily ineffective and at worst it can lead to emergency hospital admissions.”

1 – Alcohol related deaths, registered in the United Kingdom

For interviews with Simon Antrobus, please contact the Addaction press office on

0207 017741/07818 587696

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888

Out of hours media contact: 07867 500572


Twitter: @biglotteryfundGoes to different website #BigLottery

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Notes to editors

  • The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery.
  • The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 it has awarded close to £6bn.
  • In the year ending 31 March 2013, 28% of total National Lottery revenue was awarded to projects. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £32 billion has been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded.
  • Drink Wise, Age Well will be delivered over a seven year period by a consortium led by Addaction and including Royal Voluntary Service, Addiction Northern Ireland, International Longevity Centre UK and Drug and Alcohol Charities Wales. The programme will be evaluated by a team comprising the University of Bedfordshire’s Substance Misuse and Ageing Research Team (SMART), Edinburgh Napier University, Glyndŵr University Wales and Queen’s University Belfast.
  • Each partner will take the lead in a demonstration area:
    Western Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland: Addiction Northern Ireland (contact Director Thelma Abernethy)
    Cwm Taf Wales: Drug Aid (Director, Caroline Phipps)
    Devon County, England:  Addaction (Contact Sue Petters)
    Sheffield City, England : Royal Voluntary Service- (Contact Paul Taylor, Karl Demian)
    Glasgow City, Scotland: Addaction (Andrew Horne)
    Research and Evaluation: Sarah Wadd, SMART who will lead a UK wide academic team 


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