Lesley Threlfall knows more than most people about helping alcoholics. She has worked with them for 10 years.
So when someone with her experience criticises the government’s alcohol policy, it’s worth listening.
“On paper the strategy seems good, but when you see it in more detail it doesn’t look as great,” she said.
Mrs Threlfall, pictured, says more effort is needed to change drinking attitudes. This is what she aims to do at the newly opened Lifeline Centre on Lune Street.
“Society plays a massive part. It’s one of the main issues. There’s a terrible drinking culture here.”
But she isn’t the only one critical of the government’s strategy. Other health organisations, including Alcohol Concern and the British Medical Association, have been as scathing.
They called the coalition’s ‘responsibility deal’ too weak. Under the proposals alcohol companies would have to promote safe drinking and label products clearly.
Chief executive of Alcohol Concern Don Shenker said: “This is the worst possible deal for everyone who wants to see alcohol harm reduced.”
Mrs Threlfall believes they are all making mistakes. She says it’s not regulation or harm which are main issues.
“We need to be helping people recover and look at the bigger picture. It’s about changing attitudes and practices.”
She, and an experienced team of counsellors, will be working closely with addicts at the new centre. Her passion for the job is stronger than ever.
“I started off counselling, and it’s just amazing. It sounds stupid, but it’s great when you help make a difference.”
The government is also being criticised for not cracking down on supermarkets. Cheap alcohol prices are seen as a major contribution to the problem.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he wants to avoid “intrusive” regulation of the industry.
Andrew Opie, food director for the British Retail Consortium, defended the government’s decisions.
“Supermarkets are the most responsible sellers of alcohol. They enforce Challenge 25 to prevent under-age sales, display ‘Know Your Limits’ unit labelling and provide funding for the Drink Aware campaign.”