Senior North East health figures inspire people to take part in Dry January

Efforts underway to encourage more people to give up alcohol during January to help improve their health in 2015

Katie Collins/PA Wire A woman drinking a glass of wine
A woman drinking a glass of wine

Senior health bosses are inspiring people across the region to take part in this year’s Dry January campaign.

Organised by Alcohol Concern and partnered by Balance, the campaign is an opportunity for drinkers to take a break and give up alcohol throughout this month.

Now in its third year, Dry January aims to get people thinking and talking about their relationship with alcohol by abstaining for a month. It’s hoped the benefits of the experience will encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles throughout the rest of the year.

Last year more than 17,300 people signed up nationally, with around one in four people being from the North East.

Frances Blackburn, Head of Nursing at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, is one of those opting for alcohol-free fun during January 2015.

She said: “For me Dry January is about having a healthy start to the year, and getting back on track with some lifestyle changes I made last year. It’s harder to decline nibbles and pudding when I’ve had a drink and it’s all more calories.”

Frances Blackburn, Head of Nursing at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle
Frances Blackburn, Head of Nursing at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle

As one of the region’s largest employers with a workforce of over 13,000 people, the Newcastle Hospitals, in partnership with Unison, is also hosting a number of events to launch Dry January to its staff - offering information, advice, and the chance to sign up.

Jeff Marshall, 36, is one of those giving up alcohol for the month.

Mr Marshall, a teacher, from Durham, said: “When I heard about all the different types of people who were taking part, I decided to give it a go.”

“I drank far too much over Christmas and New Year so feel that it’s time to give myself - and my liver - a break.”

A launch event is taking place today in the New Victoria Wing of the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) when both staff and members of the public will be able to sample a range of non-alcoholic ‘mocktails’, or just enjoy a cup of tea.

There will also be information and advice available tomorrow from noon to 2pm in the restaurant in Freeman Hospital.

People who have gone dry in previous Dry January campaigns have experienced a range of benefits including weight loss, sleeping better, saving money, and learning that they don’t need alcohol to enjoy themselves.

Michael Martin, 39, from Northumberland, gave up for January last year.

He said: “It was harder than I thought to begin with, but after the first two weeks, I didn’t really think about it. In fact, I stayed dry until the end of February.”

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Dry January provides the perfect opportunity for people to take a break from drinking after the excesses of December.

“Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions and diseases including liver disease, various cancers, stomach ulcers, raised blood pressure, stroke and dementia.

“It’s important to remember that most people who suffer alcohol-related health problems are not alcoholics or binge drinkers. They are people who have been drinking at or above the recommended limits on a daily, or almost daily basis, over a number of years.

“Taking time out allows you to take stock of your alcohol consumption and reassess your attitude towards drinking, as well as providing short term benefits to your health and wellbeing.”

For more information about how you can sign up, visit


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