Research type 
Desk research
Year of report 

Summary of findings


Barnsley’s Drinking Culture

  • Working class area – ex-mining town. Strong sense of community
  • Heritage in drinking post work / weekend – strong drink culture. Live for the weekend.
  • High number of bars and clubs in small vicinity. Cheap drinks / promotions.
  • Large number of single sex groups of friends / family on night out / socialising at home

Women’s Attitude to Drinking

  • Drinking not recognised by women as a health or social issue
  • High levels of drinking deemed the norm
  • High levels of drinking from age 14/15; peer pressure / seen as ‘cool’

Key Reasons For Drinking

  • Escape from everyday life
  • Relaxation and fun / ‘let hair down’
  • More confident socially
  • Nothing else to do in Barnsley
  • Habitual / ingrained in their weekly life

Drinking Behaviour

  • Levels of alcohol consumed typically peaking at weekend
  • Sunday drinking in town perceived to be older (40+)
  • Some going out for specific nights in town, e.g. Tues = Gay night, Weds = Student night
  • Typically drinking begins at home 6pm onwards. 8pm onwards drinking in local pubs. 9/10pm – 3am-ish ‘in town’.
  • Clear awareness of offers / promotions
  • Premises encouraging hazardous & harmful drinking, e.g. pints for 1p when you buy double spirits, ‘all you can drink’ offers

Dangers & Barriers to Drinking

  • Awareness of long term alcohol effects generally very low
  • Understanding of unit also very low, including recommended amount per week for women
  • Risk of drinking whilst pregnant was commonly known.
  • Common perception that continued regular drinking was a danger, but not excessive once / twice a week drinking
  • Dangers known tended to be short-term risks, e.g. hangover, drink driving, falling over, unwanted pregnancy, choking on vomit
  • Need to educate in terms of long- and short-term health implications

Evaluation of Current Campaigns

  • Generally high awareness of the ‘You wouldn’t start a night like this’ TV ads, though the impact was mixed
  • TV felt most appropriate media, but shock tactics deemed necessary for impact
  • Posters etc. in bars not thought to be working as at that point women were already in drinking mode
  • Generally felt that education needed at a young age
  • As a parallel, anti-smoking strategies appeared successful in communicating the dangers. However, many still smoked Hence, communication of message doesn’t equate to changed behaviour

Impact of Campaigns / Drinking Initiatives

  • Weight based campaign evaluated as too subtle
  • Not well understood, so low impact and received negative reactions
  • Warning of potential health dangers evaluated as too subtle / not direct enough

Barnsley Initiatives & Future

  • Important to overcome lack of awareness. Role in educating from young.
  • In order to break routine of weekend drinking, need for more facilities to provide alternative options.
  • For those with children school holidays are a time for drinking and going out, partly fuelled by mothers need to escape. Need for alternatives (including transport) that involve their children and activities away from alcohol
  • This group is hard to reach by drug and alcohol services, and will not often seek help, as they don’t perceive they have a problem. Need for coordinated health services; e.g. providing info and opportunity of advice when they come into contact with A&E
  • Role for GPs in providing info. Those from deprived areas less likely to visit. Need to other forms of contact, e.g. text messages / on-street presence from health services at weekend
  • Role for licensed premises to promote sensible drinking
  • Need to use relevant language in marketing communications (i.e. not ‘units’), relevant and powerful imagery, and using multiple methods

Research objectives


In support of the overall project objective (see ‘Background’ above) the specific research objectives were to:

  • Explore the target audience’s lifestyles, mindset and behaviour, their current life as well as their aspirations and future life plans
  • Understand and identify the key social influences and pressures at work in the target audiences lives, and specifically which lead them to excessive drinking
  • Assess attitudes towards alcohol and drinking habits
  • Evaluate current drinking habits including buying and consumption behaviour, including financial patterns that affect buyer behaviour and purchase patterns
  • Identify motivators and barriers to drinking alcohol (at home and in pubs/bars etc)
  • Explore understanding of links between alcohol and health/social problems; do the target audience know/understand the dangers of alcohol abuse and excessive drinking?
  • Understand motivations and barriers to behavioural change in relation to excessive drinking



This work was designed to help Barnsley PCT implement an effective and impactful social marketing intervention to reduce levels of excessive drinking within Barnsley females, ultimately reducing consumption of alcohol.

No other background was provided.

Quick summary


This work was designed to help Barnsley PCT implement an effective and impactful social marketing intervention to reduce levels of excessive drinking within Barnsley females, ultimately reducing consumption of alcohol.

Audience Summary





Not specified



18-35 years (Core research; ‘Drinking Buddy Sessions’)

Social Class


Not specified




Core approach:

12x 1.5 hour in-home drinking sessions, of which:

  • 3x 18-21 years (2x hazardous drinkers, 1x harmful drinkers)
  • 3x 22-25 years (1x hazardous drinkers, 2x harmful drinkers)
  • 3x 26-30 years (1x hazardous drinkers, 2x harmful drinkers)
  • 3x 31-35 years (2x hazardous drinkers, 1x harmful drinkers)
  • Where hazardous = 15-35 units per week, harmful =   35+ units per week.
  • Mix of lifestage: pre family and with family

Other methods used:

  • Desk research
  • 6x 1 hour stakeholder interviews with specialists in the Barnsley area
  • Immersion days (including customer observations, bar managers / staff interviews, ‘on the spot’ interviews with customers)

Data collection methodology

Depth interviews
Textual/documentary analysis

Detailed region



Fieldwork dates


w.c. 16th and 23rd February 2009

Agree to publish



Research agency


Report format