According to statistics, 29 million people in the UK drink alcohol. Once the festivities and gluttonous excess of Christmas are done, it is no wonder that the idea of abstaining from alcohol becomes extremely appealing. Queue one of the simplest, yet most ingenious campaigns of all; Dry January, launched in 2012 by Alcohol Change UK charity. This campaign had one unassuming intention, to change the UK drinking culture by encouraging people to avoid alcohol for the entirety of, arguably, the most depressing month of the year. So, with over 4.2 million of us planning on taking on the challenge this year, what have the charity done in order to take this campaign to its current heady heights?
The Dry Jan app appeals to every participant of the campaign. Whether you are doing it to save money, lose weight or raise money for charity; it not only tracks your units saved, it also shows you the calories and money saved too. It also gives you the option of donating a percentage of your savings to families and communities suffering from alcohol harm, quickly and hassle free. There is the option of signing up to regular support emails, which provide you with motivation just when you need it most. The app is incredibly user friendly, and has a handy calendar, which allows you to mark each day with progress, documenting whether you ‘stayed dry’ or ‘had a drink’, giving visual incentives to keep you going.
Social media community
The Dry January social media channels are well organised and incorporate engaging content, with celebrity ambassadors, case studies and shock tactics aplenty. Interestingly, Dry January and Alcohol Concern have separate social media accounts, whilst there are millions of people taking part in the campaign, the follower figures for the Dry January account do not, in fact, particularly reflect its popularity. With regards to the website, Alcohol Concern have a variety of tactics put in place to persuade and inspire. With a frequently updated blog, the charity offers advice, light content such as the guide to the best non-alcoholic alternatives, as well as personal reflections explaining why the campaign is of such importance.
Fundraising has always been encouraged, but not compulsory for participants of Dry January. In 2016, Alcohol Concern partnered up with Virgin Money Giving, allowing supporters of the campaign to fundraise for their chosen charity – which can be any one of 12,000 charities registered with Virgin Money Giving – including Alcohol Change UK. As a result of this shrewd partnership, not only are the funds raised now split 50/50 between two charities, but the public are incentivised beyond just thinking about their own health and finances. The partakers can help others, as well as benefitting personally. Official food and drink partners have also been brought in, including restaurant chain Strada, which has added a range of alcohol-free beers and wines to its menus, Britvic, fitness technology company Jawbone, Public Health England and The Telegraph newspaper.
Whilst this campaign has transformed the way many of us tackle the start of our year and is promoted as a change in attitude towards alcohol, the charitable element is sometimes lost in the background. However, with the introduction of the app and ease at which people can donate on it, people are now more aware than ever that the positive outcomes of this brilliant campaign are manifold.
If you’ve over indulged this year and want to take part in Dry January you can visit Alcohol Change UK’s campaign page here