Reducing binge drinking across our campuses is an essential welfare issue, and it often starts in halls of residence. It’s easy and cheap to stay in, forget about dinner, and drink with friends before a night out. We need to provide new options.
At the University of Brighton Students’ Union, they’ve found a simple, safer, effective alternative: pancakes.
“We hold a pre-drinking café in one of our biggest student halls, prior to our weekly student night in town”, explains vice president for wellbeing Fliss Newton. “Students are able to meet up outside of their living space, in the café area in the main hub, and can socialise while eating free tasty pancakes and preparing their stomachs for the night ahead”
Providing a space to hang out and eat food makes a huge impact on slowing alcohol consumption as well as ensuring students have had something to eat before drinking. It has also been a resounding success – with up to 200 students coming along every session.
“The pre-drink pancakes at Varley Park is something I look forward to each week”, explains student Guy Burchard. “You play games have pancakes and it is all run by a super friendly team”
“It's a great way to meet new people and keep your energy up for night out – amazing idea!”
Not only does this have a positive impact on curbing binge drinking, it also create a far more inclusive space for students who might not drink, or don’t like clubbing. Before the cafe, a lot of students could have experienced feelings of social isolation, with most opportunities to meet people being centred on bars or clubs.
Now there’s a place where everyone from across halls can spend time together in an alcohol free environment, and it’s proven incredibly popular.
“We’ve had students arrive all dressed up for a night out but have chosen to stay and socialise with their hall mates instead”, Fliss says. “And we’ve even had students from other sites asking as to when they too will get their own café!”
On campuses across the UK, excessive pre-drinking in halls often makes a negative contribution to a range of student welfare issues. The temptation is to crack down on it, but the University of Brighton Students’ Union has proven that providing a positive alternative is a more effective solution. Not only can a pre-drinking café slow down pre-drinking, it also creates a positive, inclusive social space for all students. And everyone gets pancakes.