Funding boost for ‘innovative’ alcohol project

Innovative work exploring the role of alcohol in the lives of gay and bisexual men is set to continue following renewed funding from the Scotch Whisky Action Fund (SWAF).

The Our Voice project, delivered by our SX team, has been working with gay and bisexual men over the last year to develop a better understanding of the role that alcohol plays in their lives, and how this affects their health and wellbeing.

Numerous studies show the disproportionate impact alcohol-related harm has on gay and bisexual men – often tied to health inequalities around issues like mental health and discrimination. This has had wide reaching consequences for men’s sexual, physical and emotional health.

The renewed funding for SX comes from the SWAF’s capability programme, which commits money to support innovative projects that have shown a positive impact in their first year.

The Our Voice project initially focused on Edinburgh and the Lothians, but with renewed funding, is now expanding across Scotland. Since the start of the project, the team has organised a range of events, bringing men together to discuss their thoughts about alcohol in different aspects of their lives – including how they socialise and the sex that they have. This has led to dedicated alcohol awareness campaigns, developed by volunteers, shared online, and promoted at events like Pride.

The team has also started to include questions about alcohol as part of the conversations we're having with men who visit our services such as the M-Test sexual health testing clinic. This has allowed us to offer over 650 interventions with men, helping them to understand and address aspects of their drinking.

One of the most interesting parts of the work has been our peer research project. We have recruited a group of 10 volunteers who have been trained to conduct interviews with their friends to gather powerful first-hand accounts about alcohol use. The volunteers have been involved since the early stages of this process, helping to identify key issues and develop questions for the research to explore, and identifying the key issues to emerge.

The renewed funding will help us to continue engaging with the community in these ways, and to use the findings to develop effective services that support men in relation to problematic drinking. We’re delighted that the Scotch Whisky Action Fund has recongised the impact our work is having and would like to thank them for their continued support.