The Portman Group is just one organisation supported by the alcohol industry to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to promoting responsible drinking.

We are currently celebrating 25 years of the Code of Conduct which was founded at the time when alcopops were launched. The founding principle of the Code was that products should not particularly appeal to under 18-year-olds.

While we are seeking to ensure that the sector doesn’t entice young people to drink, we are delighted to promote the important work of Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) in preventing underage drinking and alcohol harm to young people.

CAP creates local partnerships between local authorities, police, schools, retailers, neighbourhood groups and health providers, working together to prevent alcohol-related harm to young people, improve their health and wellbeing and enhance their communities.

In the 14 years since CAP was launched, there has been a marked shift in the number of underage people drinking as well as a fall in consumption among young adults. The majority (56%) of 11-15 year olds have never had an alcoholic drink – a reverse of the situation 20 years ago when drinkers were in the majority[1]. 83% of young adults (16-24 year olds) either do not drink or stick within the CMO guidelines[2], and 25% of young adults are non-drinkers[3]. These consistent falls are probably due, in no small part, to early interventions carried out by organisations such as CAP.

CAP operates in 45 local authority areas across England, Scotland, and Wales where a total of 216 projects have been launched since 2007. Their action plans are uniquely tailored to target local problems but will often follow the three-pillar model to educate, prevent underage sales and engage young people in positive activity to enhance their confidence, health and wellbeing.

To educate

Education is key to raising awareness about the impact of underage alcohol consumption on health and society and the laws relating to young people and alcohol. CAP’s focus on alcohol education is part of a long-term, preventative approach to ensure that young people are equipped with the knowledge to stay safe from alcohol harms.

CAPs work closely with schools to provide evidence-based alcohol education, highlight the harms caused by underage drinking and encourage pupils to take part in the Royal Society of Health Young Health Champions to give them the skills and confidence to become peer mentors.

During the pandemic, with so many children restricted to online learning, CAP and its education partners came up with creative ways to ensure that alcohol education continued and could be accessed by all. It piloted an online version of the Young Health Champions programme and worked in partnership with Collingwood Learning to offer schools the opportunity to participate in Smashed Online – a powerful drama based alcohol education programme.

To engage young people in positive activities

In some areas, often the most economically deprived parts of the country where the effects of alcohol harm are highest, there are fewer opportunities for young adults to engage in meaningful positive activities. CAP encourages local partnerships to assess the leisure activities available for young people in their area, to consult with them about what they would like to do and look at ways to increase choice and accessibility. From bike maintenance to yoga, manga drawing and mental health awareness sessions, they provide safe spaces for kids to be kids.

As well as enhancing young people’s confidence, mental and physical health and wellbeing, these activities are also an excellent opportunity to deliver alcohol education in an informal setting.

To prevent underage sales

CAP works closely with the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group which was established in 2005 by national retailers in an effort to eradicate underage alcohol sales. CAPs maintain strong links with retailers, providing support, training and publicity materials to help them avoid making underage alcohol sales, adhere to Challenge 25 requirements for young people to carry acceptable ID and deter proxy purchase, when adults attempt to buy alcohol for children.

Stores that engage with CAP know there’s help available if they need it. They tend to see significant reductions in confrontations in store and abuse of staff and say it makes them feel more confident when dealing with difficult situations.

Implementation and results

CAP has a proven model which provides rapid results at a low cost, typically just £3,000 to £5,000 for each local partnership over two years. CAP’s robust evaluation framework provides a means for CAPs to measure their performance against key objectives. This has enabled it to demonstrate that CAP is a highly effective model achieving very significant improvements in key metrics linked to underage drinking.

Their impact is clear, with CAP areas demonstrating 61% average reductions in weekly drinking among 13–16-year-olds and a 50% reduction in young people asking adults to buy alcohol for them outside shops. There have also been improvements in retail operations with 99% of retailers implementing a Challenge 25 policy and 86% of retailers refusing to sell when they suspected it might be a ‘proxy’ sale.

Planning ahead

Looking to the future, CAP plans to extend its reach and set up more projects that engage with the 18-25 age bracket, especially in university towns. Growth will focus on high harm areas and priority areas are Scotland, Wales and the North East and North West of England.

Additionally, CAP will be conducting research into what they have identified as a main route for children to secure alcohol. Contrary to what you may initially think in terms of friends or small retailers being main suppliers, it is parents who appear to be the main source of alcohol with 71% of current drinkers aged 11-15 saying that they obtained alcohol from their parents.

Whilst the overall reductions in underage drinking are a great achievement there remain pockets of high harm to young people in some locations of the UK and CAP’s targeted localised approach remains of vital importance here. If you would like to find out more about their work, go to:


[1] NHS Digital 2019

[2] NHS England, December 2020 / Scottish Health Survey, September 2020/ National Survey for Wales, September 2020 / Health Survey Northern Ireland, December 2020

[3] 28% – NHS England, December 2020 / 17% – Scottish Health Survey, September 2020/ 23% National Survey for Wales, September 2020 /22% – Health Survey Northern Ireland, December 2020


Only a Pavement Away – The Hospitality Industry Supports Homeless People into Employment

Following the publication of our Supporting Communities report, we continue to engage with industry groups and organisations who play important roles in advancing the alcohol and hospitality sectors. Using the report as a springboard, we are continuing to shine a light on the valuable work of these groups.

One such organisation is Only a Pavement Away (OAPA), a charity which works to support homeless people by getting them into employment in the hospitality sector.

OAPA was founded by married couple Greg and Gill Mangham who were shocked and saddened by both the sheer number of homeless people living in the UK, as well as the way the homeless community are treated.

Greg and Gill refused to accept that homelessness is the direct result of a person’s actions and point to an inherently flawed system. They also spotted that the hospitality industry was growing quickly and needed an increased workforce to meet demand. Greg had spent 40 years working in the industry and saw an opportunity to connect homeless looking for jobs with companies needing staff. He used his extensive contacts and knowledge to build the charity.

OAPA acts as the bridge between charities working to get people who are ex-offenders or homeless into employment, and those businesses who need to recruit new employees and are keen to support people to have a second chance. As a not-for-profit recruiter they created a programme to match candidates with employers.  With candidates undergoing initial assessments, support to prepare for interviews and relevant training courses employers can be confident in them. The process is open and transparent which removes any caution from the employer or the need for the prospective employee to explain the details of their circumstances.

Launched in 2018, by 2020, it had already placed 77 people into employment. With every homeless or former prisoner costing £20,000 to the economy they have helped to add £2.5 million worth of value to the UK economy. Additionally, they keep close to those on the streets and support rough sleepers by donating flasks, warm clothes, blankets, and food and drink.

The charity is partnered with major players in the hospitality sector including pubcos who stepped up to support the COVID-19 relief effort, covered in the Supporting Communities report. These include Youngs & Co Brewery, Gaucho, Greene King, Malmaison, Pub Love, Yummy, Qoot, The Ivy Collection and many more.

OAPA provides a gateway to employment and vital associated services such as support and training. Beyond this, OAPA is committed to providing additional assistance to the most vulnerable in the programme. This includes providing housing, travel, uniform, and groceries. A donation to OAPA covers these essentials.

If you would like to learn more about Only a Pavement Away, contact If you’re part of business that would like to become a partner and help those facing homelessness, get into employment, contact