AlcoLOLs Project: Final report, March 2016
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Pieczka, M., Wood, E. and Casteltrione, I. (2016) The AlcoLOLs project: Final report, March 2016. Edinburgh: Queen Margaret University.
This report evaluates the AlcoLOLs project, funded by the Robertson Trust and conducted in Edinburgh 2013-2015. The project was designed to tackle the issues alcohol presents for young people and worked by combining insights from dialogue, peer education, and a harm reduction approach. The intervention was co-designed by young people and implemented by them in six secondary schools in the North East of Edinburgh, eventually reaching over 3000 young people. The AlcoLOLs, a name they chose for themselves, were volunteers who experienced dialogue at Queen Margaret University where they received training in facilitation and education about alcohol. Subsequently, the AlcoLOLs ran their own dialogue groups in schools, meeting each group of approximately 15 pupils twice and reaching on average 1000 pupils a year. School dialogue groups were designed to problematize alcohol, question participants’ attitudes and behaviours, offer useful knowledge, develop new communication skills to support learning, resilience, and, where appropriate, aspire to change behaviours. Our approach was: to treat alcohol consumption as a social, cultural practice; to acknowledge that persuasion and information-giving were insufficient communication methods to tackle the issue: and to adopt a harm reduction — pragmatic and non-judgmental — way of working. The AlcoLOLs project, consequently, was designed around dialogue and peer-learning and it demonstrably delivered a range of beneficial outcomes for participants: new skills and knowledge, change of attitudes and behaviours (effective self-regulation), and the promise of a potentially larger-scale cultural transformation.