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MPs give up alcohol for FebFast

17 February 2012

MPs give up alcohol for FebFast

Politicians are proving they’re up to the FebFast challenge.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation’s annual FebFast challenges people to give up alcohol for the month of February to raise money for four youth charities.

National Party MP Dr Jackie Blue is leading a team of National MPs taking part in FebFast. She says FebFast is a good opportunity for people to think about alcohol use.

“We’re so used to having a glass of beer or wine every night, or putting it in our trolley at the supermarket, along with the bread and milk. FebFast is a chance to step back and think about what we’re doing, and to help others who are struggling.”

Dr Blue says 7 National Party MPs and 10 staff/supporters are taking part in FebFast and from what she is hearing, they’re finding it a breeze.

Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei is leading a team of Green MPs taking part. She says it’s a good chance to think about how often she drinks and in what circumstances, and to reinforce messages about responsible drinking.

On day one of FebFast, Metiria Turei tweeted: ‘Wine o'clock. I’m ok. I have tea. All is well in no alcohol land. Until husband threatened to take my tea away. Not. Pretty.’

She says of FebFast: “It’s been easy, but on getting some bad news my first thought was that a wine would be very nice! Which is one of the good reasons to stop drinking for a while, so you are more aware of why you drink as well as how much.”

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway led a team of Labour MPs in last year’s FebFast and is doing the same again this year. He says they’re pleased to be supporting youth charities doing worthwhile community work and encouraging people to reflect on their own use of alcohol. As a politician he attends many events where alcohol is available and is very aware of the need to watch what he eats and drinks in order to stay healthy.

He’s finding taking part in FebFast even easier than it was last year.

“To be honest, I've barely noticed that I'm not drinking alcohol. There have been a couple of times when I've been offered a drink and I've automatically said yes, and then had to remind myself that I'm on FebFast. The big difference I've noticed this year from last year is that because people are more used to the idea of FebFast, they’re not as shocked when you turn down an offer of an alcoholic drink. Taking part in FebFast has been really easy, and I'm even contemplating whether to keep going beyond the end of February.”

FebFast Coordinator Catherine Milburn says more than $70,000 has been raised so far.

“It’s a fantastic response by our participants and their supporters,” she says. “People can still sign up to take part if they just want to do a mini-Febfast, and we'll be taking donations right through into March.”

The recipients of this year’s FebFast funding are: Evolve (Wellington), Rainbow Youth (Auckland), CareNZ (Waikato), and the ADHD Association (national).

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