PEOPLE in Eastbourne are being asked to have their say about the impact of alcohol in the county.

A public consultation asks for views on the effects of drinking on everyday life and whether these have increased because of the coronavirus pandemic.

To open the discussion, four East Sussex residents have shared their personal stories about their lives with, and without, alcohol.

They include Sophia, from St Leonards who despite a loving family background and a good education found herself in prison for drink-driving and separated from her four-year-old daughter. Now three years sober, Sophia has her daughter back and a life which, in her own words “just keeps getting better day by day.”

The consultation recognises that drinking is a complex issue. On the one hand a part of many people’s social lives and a healthy industry which sustains jobs across the county, alcohol also harms many people and consumes millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money spent managing its effects. Often the harm is greatest for the poorest.

The consultation, which is completely anonymous and can be taken online in less than 10 minutes, asks people to say more about how, why and when they drink.

Its findings will help shape a public health strategy to reduce the harms of alcohol over the next five years.

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health said: “Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate between gender, age, heritage, social status or intelligence.

“While many people enjoy a drink as part of their week, to unwind with friends or enjoy an event, there can also be a downside to drinking alcohol, when it starts to cause harm to the person drinking and the people around them.

“People have told us that one of our most important public health issues is reducing harm associated with alcohol and we want to keep that conversation going.”

The consultation is open until 31st August.