News in brief

Coca review

A report commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform is calling for a review of the illegal status of the coca leaf under the UN along with proper exploration of the potential medical and economic benefits of the crop. ‘One of the most cruel consequences of the “war on drugs” has been its impact on the lives of coca growers in South America,’ said group chair Baroness Meacher. ‘The illegality of coca leaf under the UN conventions has stifled research into the potential for coca leaf farmers to earn a legitimate livelihood from their produce.’

Coca leaf: a political dilemma? at

Shouldering responsibility

A breakdown of the roles and responsibilities of directors of public health has been produced by the Department of Health’s public health policy and strategy unit. ‘Local authorities must take the action that they decide is appropriate to improve the health of the people in their areas – it is not the job of central government to look over their shoulders and offer unnecessary advice,’ says Directors of public health in local government: roles, responsibilities and context.

Available at

Aging debate

There is still a gap between alcohol age limits in Europe and the age ‘that is advised from a medical point of view’, as brain development continues until the mid-twenties, according to a new EU study. Most EU countries have an age limit of 18, although a few have 16 or 17 and three use an age limit of 20 for stronger drinks. Eyes on ages: a research on alcohol age limit policies in European member states collects good practice and relevant priorities from across the continent.

Available at

Exploring options

Public Health England should develop a youth social marketing programme to ‘engage young people around exploratory behaviours’ such as alcohol and drugs, according to the chief medical officer’s annual report Our children deserve better: prevention pays. The report uses ‘exploratory’ rather than ‘risky’ behaviours ‘in order to be fair and destigmatise’.

Document at

Edgy drama

The Outside Edge Theatre Company has set up a new drama group for women in recovery. The group will meet every Friday afternoon from 15 November at North Westminster Drug Project in London, and attendance is free.

For more information email

Brink breakthrough

Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, founder of groundbreaking dry bar The Brink in Liverpool (DDN, December 2011, page 12), has been named Lloyds Bank social entrepreneur of the year. The award comes with a £10,000 prize, which will be put towards training for staff in early recovery, refurbishment and a new marketing campaign for the venue. ‘Winning this award is such a huge validation of all the hard work of every single staff member of The Brink,’ she said. ‘It recognises the transformation we are making in a city that was previously known for its high levels of binge drinking and drug taking. And it is also an acknowledgement to all those miraculous people who have literally “come back from the brink” in their own personal lives.’

Recovery rocks

An alcohol-free evening of live music is taking place at The Bodega in Nottingham on 22 November, presented by Double Impact and SCUF. Money raised at Recovery Rocks will go towards providing sleeping bags for homeless people during the winter months and the establishment of Sobar, an alcohol-free venue due to open early next year.

Details and tickets at, or contact Double Impact on 0115 824 0366

Would you credit it?

A new universal credit factsheet has been produced by DrugScope and the Recovery Partnership, setting out key issues that services and professionals supporting people with drug or alcohol use may want to consider, including eligibility, making a claim and the ‘claimant commitment’. The government says it is committed to delivering universal credit – which has been dogged by controversy and IT problems – across the country by 2017.

Available at

Money matters

A new one-to-one money advice service for clients has been launched by Swanswell, in partnership with the Severn Trent Trust Fund. 
‘Some of the people using our services have been particularly affected by the recent welfare reforms, so we felt it was really important to offer more support around managing debts and budgeting,’ said regional development manager David Lewis.

Vintage volunteers

A range of refurbished original furniture pieces from the 1950s-’70s has been launched by social enterprise RE:SOURCE, in partnership with Addaction. The RE:SOURCE Vintage range has been restored by volunteers and is available at, with profits going towards further training.

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