Women’s Independent Alcohol Support developed out of service user led research in Bristol, carried out by Patsy Staddon as part of her PhD, which was awarded in 2009. Patsy herself recovered from alcoholism 30 years ago after suffering from the condition since her teens.
As part of her research, women met up in groups to discuss what sort of treatment and/or other help they would have liked and decided they would like to carry on meeting. The group ran as a social group for over four years in Bristol, mainly unfunded but once being funded by the Scarman Trust. We are now starting up these groups again.
WIAS has now completed a series of telephone interviews, under the auspices of the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, to find out what women currently see their needs as being, what has been particularly helpful for them, and what they would like to see happen for themselves and other women in the future. The research findings are on view at 'Current Projects'. We have now raised funds for the telephone helpline women have said they want, with access to women who have recovered. We are also developing an interactive internet forum, and a variety of publications will soon be available.
WIAS also acts in a consultative capacity and is able to undertake commissions.
Why women and alcohol?
A question WIAS is frequently asked is: why create an organisation focused on women and alcohol? After all, men have problems too.
Traditionally, alcohol problems were seen to be something that happened to men. It was men who were seen drinking in pubs and clubs and men who were sometimes seen drunk in public.
Drunkenness in women was, and largely still is, perceived as shaming, and showing a lack of self-respect as well as lack of proper concern for one’s family. Women have been reluctant to ‘come out’ about their alcohol use for these reasons and have often preferred to use tranquillisers (‘mother’s little helpers’) and other remedies to help them when their lives were difficult or they were unhappy or even domestically abused. They have often become depressed or suicidal.
Women I have spoken to in my research have emphasised how much they need to have women only space to talk about how they came to have alcohol problems, what sometimes helps and what doesn’t, and an opportunity just for non-judgmental friendship and support. Other academic research supports these findings. Unfortunately it can be difficult and expensive to provide this in conventional treatment settings.
WIAS is now an active not-for-profit organisation, and we run small, private groups for women, operate a helpline every Wednesday evening from 6 pm--10 pm (0117-9428077), offer some one to one counselling, and of course the drop-by at Bishopston's Boston Tea Party (corner of Gloucester Road and Neville Road) from 10--12 every Friday. (Look for the booth with the small WIAS sign.)
Our small group sessions happen three times a year, runnning for 6 weeks each time, and are extremely popular. They are free but we do ask you to help with costs if possible.
Get in touch to sign up for one--they are friendly, helpful, and women-only.
We are also on the look-out for volunteers, so do contact us if you'd like to work and train with us.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Otherwise watch this page and we will keep you posted regularly about our progress.