Mind over matter: Winning the battle of hearts and minds

With a population of 2.6 million, the North East of England has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption and the highest number of alcohol-related hospital admissions – currently 23 per cent higher than the England average.

Colin Shevills believes that in order to effect significant change at a population level, the hearts and minds of politicians and public must be won.

“Public health professionals are very good at facts and data. We are less good at telling emotional stories,” said Mr Shevills.

Colin Shevills is the Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office in Durham in the United Kingdom. Balance aims to change the social norms around alcohol consumption by implementing effective ways to deal with, monitor and record information on alcohol misuse and impact.

In the Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC) workshop Winning the battle for hearts and minds, presented by Mr Shevills and Director of Institute of Alcohol Studies Katherine Brown, participants were given opportunities to analyse the challenges they face in their own countries and discuss them with colleagues from elsewhere.

“An effective advocacy strategy recognises the importance of understanding audience, framing the debate, and winning the media war,” said Mr Shevills.

Mr Shevills second presentation, From Evidence to Action: a regional approach to changing alcohol social norms, discussed the success of tobacco denormalisation techniques, and how they are now working for alcohol too.

Colin’s presentation explored the challenges of applying tobacco control concepts to population-level alcohol problems, and how the current political environment helps to shape communications and advocacy plans.

In this short video, filmed at GAPC 2017 in Melbourne, Mr Shevills further his work in North East England and the strategies used to improve attitudes towards alcohol harm.

Following GAPC2017, Colin Shevills presented a seminar in Canberra titled: From Evidence to Action: a regional approach to changing alcohol social norms.

Colin’s in-depth presentation adeptly highlighted the challenges of applying tobacco control concepts to population-level alcohol problems, and how the current political environment helps to shape communications and advocacy plans.

Watch Colin’s full seminar below.

To learn more about Balance North East England, please visit their website.

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