<New guidance Punjabi community with alcohol problems researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Birmingham>
August 3, 2020 • jainendra joshi • business



New guidance on fixing a specialist project for people from the Punjabi community with alcohol

problems has been published. The authors’ recommendations also provide a framework for

supporting people from other communities with alcohol problems who aren't engaging with existing services.

The guide, developed by alcohol, drugs and gambling charity Aquarius, and researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University and therefore the University of Birmingham, is predicated on the

evaluation of an alcohol service initiative for a Punjabi community in the West Midlands – the first of its

kind in the UK.

Offering advice on fixing a project, developing a project model, project management, project delivery,

also as useful resources, the guidance has been developed from work led by substance use

researcher Professor Sarah Galvani from Manchester Metropolitan.

The research team has drafted new guidance for managers and commissioners considering setting

up a project of this kind, providing best practice on how to work productively with local communities

when providing services addressing alcohol use within South Asian communities generally , and

therefore the Punjabi community especially .

Professor Galvani, Professor of Social Research and Substance Use at Manchester Metropolitan

University, said: “There is dearth of research into the specific needs of people in minority ethnic

communities who may be using alcohol and other drugs problematically. Far more attention is

needed to support our diverse communities and to determine the most effective ways of supporting

people, and their families. As one community member told me, there is a habit of “parachuting in ‘white’

services” and expecting that to work.”

Report co-author, Dr Surinder Guru, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said: “Drinking

within the Punjabi community is very gendered. Heavy drinking by men is common practice but women’s

drinking is frowned upon. This creates tensions in families and women can suffer rejection and shame

within the community and family. The original research underpinning Shanti showed that young Punjabi

people notice this unequal treatment of men and women and see it as unfair. We need to give attention

to women’s drinking and the impact of men’s drinking on women and children with the Punjabi community.”

Richard McVey, Aquarius’ Head of Service, said: “It is really important that all alcohol and drug services

listen to the particular needs of our diverse communities. We must avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To

do this, a partnership with the community from the outset is vital.”

The guidance includes resources for planning and delivering any project with people and key agencies

from the Punjabi community from the outset; understanding cultural and religious norms, committing time

for building relationships of trust with community partners, involving people with lived experience, being

prepared to develop new models and partnerships where needed, and understanding the key role of

multi-agency and partnership working underpinned by trust, integrity, honesty and transparency from the


Aquarius ran the alcohol service initiative, called The Shanti Project within the Punjabi community from

2016-19. The project was developed out of the organisation’s concern for the number of middle-aged

Punjabi men presenting to Accident and Emergency departments with serious alcohol-related liver

conditions that needed earlier detection.

Shanti aimed to increase recognition and understanding of alcohol problems and alcohol services within

this Punjabi community, leading to an increase in alcohol service access by those with an alcohol

problem. Sikh TV and radio channels and other social media outlets were particularly effective in

disseminating information to the community. It also was designed so that frontline alcohol professionals

and community facilitators would have improved awareness of alcohol and the Shanti service and the

knowledge to refer people to specialist services.