Mocktail youth project gets a makeover

A Dragon's Den mocktail - picture submitted
A Dragon's Den mocktail - picture submitted

An innovative and interactive project designed to empower young people in the Horsham district to explore safe and responsible alternatives to alcohol, while developing employability skills, has undergone a makeover and is being rebranded as ‘Mocktail Apprentice’.

The project, which up until now has been known as ‘Dragons’ Den Mocktail’, is one of 10 national pilot schemes and has been developed by Horsham District Council, Sussex Central YMCA and Horsham Matters.

Most recently, a stall was used in Horsham’s New Year, New You town centre market in January to promote the ‘Mocktail Apprentice Project’ where volunteers and stakeholders involved in the project handed out free sample mocktails (or non-alcoholic cocktail), made by local bars B52’s and Octopvs. Recipe cards for these mocktails were also handed out.

The market stall coincided with the change of name of the project, which aims to create more of a brand for the initiative, and a new logo was designed by a young person living at the Y Centre in Horsham town centre.

The stall gave the organisers the chance to engage with members of the public and promote the project over the course of two days in January, where over 250 people visited the stall.

Volunteers and organisers spoke to members of the public about their alcohol consumption. They sought views about whether people thought there were enough non-alcoholic alternatives on the market and how comfortable they felt about ordering these.

This summer, the team will be visiting secondary schools across the Horsham District giving teams of students the chance to come up with their own ‘mocktail’ recipes before pitching them to a panel of judges, made up of local business, health and youth work representatives.

The winning teams from each school will compete in an inter-school ‘Mocktail Apprentice’ final, which will be held at South Lodge Hotel in Horsham in July 2013.

It is hoped that the winning mocktail recipes will be made available for sale in Horsham, giving wider recognition to the project as well as promoting safe and responsible drinking messages to the wider community.

Sue Rogers, Horsham District Council’s Cabinet Member for a Safer and Healthier District, said: “Whilst young people’s binge drinking is not a huge issue for us in the Horsham District community, this project is an extremely important and educational project for the young people in our area.

“I am pleased with how the project is progressing and excited to see how the young people develop their projects over the coming months.”

Peter Lake, Vice Chairman of The Rotary Club of Horsham, which is one of many partners supporting the Mocktail Apprentice Project, said: “The Rotary Club of Horsham provides voluntary services and support to residents and a variety of organisations in Horsham.

“The Mocktails Apprentice Project is a natural extension of these services as it will clearly assist the education of the Horsham District’s young people in a vital aspect of their lives and will help their involvement and integration with our community.

“The Mocktails Apprentice Project will also help our youngsters to learn about the dangers of alcohol and to acquire a number of business and social skills.”

Funding for this project came from the Department for Communities and Local Government as well as West Sussex County Council.

For more information on the project, email Clare Ebelewicz, Senior Youth and Older Persons Officer at Horsham District Council at clare.ebelewicz@horsham.gov.uk or call 01403 215137.