Blue Light scheme wins national award
Published 22nd October 2019
A much-praised scheme to help dependent drinkers in Sandwell while easing the pressure on emergency services has won one of the country’s top public health awards.
The Blue Light Project works with drinkers who have struggled with alcohol dependence treatment and place a demand on the emergency services.
The highly-successful project, which has saved the emergency services around £150,000, has won the Heathier Lifestyles award in the Public Health and Wellbeing Awards schemes.
The award, run by the Royal Society for Public Health, recognises the effectiveness of projects that improve the lives of the most vulnerable and supports people to make healthier lifestyle choices.
The Blue Light scheme is aimed at working with the most difficult to reach drinkers, getting them support and reducing the number of alcohol-related emergency calls or A&E visits.
Councillor Farut Shaeen, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for living healthy lives, said: “We’re really proud of the Blue Light Project and its impact on vulnerable people and we are delighted to have won this highly-coveted national award.
“This is recognition of the hard work of everyone involved in the project and we look forward to helping many more people in the future.”
The project, led by the council’s Public Health team, working with the local substance misuse service provider Cranstoun, housing and social work teams, the NHS, police, probation, GPs, ambulance and other services.
More than 200 staff across these organisations, including the council, are also trained in how to identify someone who would benefit from the project – which was also shortlisted in this year’s MJ awards.
Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s director of public health, said: “This is a very important award scheme which attracts entries from the very best of public health organisations in the country.
“To win one of the top awards is amazing and confirms the fact that Blue Light is an amazing project which helps vulnerable people at a time when most of them are in desperate need for help.”
To begin with, more than 30 drinkers engaged with the project. Based on just nine individuals who were responsible for costs to the public purse of £244,000 in the 12 months prior to Blue Light, by the end of 12 months that had been reduced to below £93,000.
The success led to the continuation of the Blue Light project with funding provided by the Better Care Fund. Around 50 individuals are being helped each year.
The scheme has also been nominated for The Guardian Public Health & Wellbeing Award 2019.
Caption left to right: Mary Bailey and Dawn Maycock from Sandwell Public Health; Irene O'Brien, Debra Slater and Arron Owen from Cranstoun with Lisa McNally, Sandwell's director of public health.