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Labour MP goes alcohol-free for FebFast

28 December 2011
Labour MP goes alcohol-free for FebFast

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway will be making a beeline for the juice cart at functions and social events next February.

He’s an ambassador for the New Zealand Drug Foundation’s FebFast fundraising event, which will take place during the shortest month of 2012.

FebFast challenges New Zealanders to give up drinking alcohol for all of February to raise money via online sponsorship for youth charities around New Zealand. Information about how to sign up is available at www.febfast.org.nz.

“It’s a very worthwhile thing to do as these community organisations are supporting people with problems with alcohol and drugs,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

“They need every bit of help we can give them, and taking part in FebFast also gives us a chance to look at our own habits about how we use alcohol in social situations.”

Nearly a thousand people took part in the first FebFast in February 2011, which raised more than $100,000 for four community organisations. People can participate in FebFast as individuals or in teams of friends, family, workmates and so on.

The recipient organisations for 2012 are:

Evolve, a free Wellington service for young people aged 10 to 25 years. Evolve provides a wide range of general health, primary care and social services to assist youth. The funding it receives from FebFast will support a new programme for brief interventions with young people around alcohol and drug use. You can read more about Evolve at www.evolveyouth.org.nz.

The ADHD Association, which educates, supports and advocates for people affected by ADHD. FebFast funding will support the development of a substance abuse educational resource for young people with ADHD. Research shows that this group are more prone to substance abuse. The DVD/study guide produced from FebFast funding will be a first in New Zealand for ADHD, and will be relevant to the many social agencies involved with this group. You can read more about the ADHD Association at www.adhd.org.nz.

Rainbow Youth, Auckland. Queer and Transgender youth are more likely to drink often and heavily, more likely to drink alone, and more likely to have had family or friends tell them to reduce their drinking. Rainbow Youth wants to change the way alcohol and drug use is viewed, and will use its FebFast funding to raise awareness of the issues, for example through the use of blogs on the www.curious.org.nz and the www.rainbowyouth.org.nz sites.

CareNZ, Waikato. Every year CareNZ helps more than 2700 people overcome addiction issues. FebFast funding will support an ongoing project that follows up focus group results collected from 14 schools. This will involve raising awareness of alcohol issues, the availability of help, and the need to diminish the harm caused by youth drinking in schools. You can read more about CareNZ at www.carenz.org.nz.

FebFast Coordinator Catherine Milburn says the event is all about participation, giving others a helping hand, and giving our bodies a break after the hectic festive season.

“It’s about having fun and taking a month off alcohol during February to create some space in our busy lives,” she says. “It’s great having Iain involved as an ambassador.”

Iain Lees-Galloway was an ambassador for the inaugural FebFast and led a team of Labour MPs who raised $3150.00 through sponsorship and support.

“I found the experience last time very rewarding personally,” he says. “I lost a bit of weight but what I found more interesting was that I got used to not drinking alcohol in social situations. It became a normal thing for me to say ‘no’ to an alcoholic drink and to just have an orange juice.”

As a politician he attends many events where alcohol is available, and he is very aware of the need to watch what he eats and drinks in order to stay healthy.

“Taking part in FebFast is a really good way to think about your own relationship with alcohol, just press pause for a little while. I'd really encourage people to sign up for it, and I'm going to be encouraging my colleagues at Parliament to take part as well.”


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