Future secured for alcohol and health campaigns

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THE future of the region’s alcohol and smoking health campaign groups has been secured for another two years, thanks to council funding.

Fresh, which campaigns on tobacco use, and alcohol awareness organisation Balance were previously reliant on funding from the region’s NHS primary care trusts.

When the trusts were abolished, the agencies turned to the North East’s local authorities for support.

Now a deal has been reached which will maintain Fresh’s annual budget of £713,00 and Balance’s of £680,000.

Balance director Colin Shevells said the agreement would mean business as usual for the two organisations and give them a new degree of stability.

“The funding we have secured from the 12 North East local authorities is the same as before, but for the first time we have got a two year-contract,” he said.

Fresh became the first tobacco control office in the country when it was established in 2005 to tackle a smoking rate of 29 per cent among adults and had overssen a fall in smoking ahead of the national average.

Balance was also a first when it arrived in 2009 and has campaigned to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

Both organisations are based in Durham and employ four staff each.