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Portman Group steps back from campaigns

Published:  23 July, 2008

by Dawn Cran
Industry-funded sensible drinking advocate The Portman Group is stepping back from consumer communication following the signing of an historic' agreement for the formation of a new self-governing trust to be regulated by both industry and non-industry experts.

Named the The Drinkaware Trust, it will differ from the The Portman Group Trust by being independently run by 13 trustees, who will come from a wide range of fields, such as health, education, law enforcement and voluntary sectors, as well as from the drinks industry.

This is the first time there has been a large-scale

collective drive from the government, the health sector and the drinks trade, which, according to Jean Coussins, chief executive of The Portman Group, have traditionally skirted around each other'.

The Portman Group will turn its attention to industry-facing' activities, including the regulation of product marketing.

Drinkaware will be the consumer side of the campaign, and Coussins told Harpers: The idea is to get more resources behind the project and positively influence the nation's drinking behaviour in terms of reducing the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol.' The new programme will be designed to promote responsible drinking, as well as raise funds for local and national initiatives, which will be planned and implemented by the new team of trustees, who will be sourced through public advertising in addition to industry nominations.

The trust will be run by an interim CEO, who will be a seconded civil servant, until the new board is under way.

Coussins confirmed the industry has pledged 12 million to the new charity over the next three years, which includes 2.1m from each member of The Portman Group each year for the next three years, and donations from major companies in both the on- and off-trade such as Tesco, Constellation and Enterprise Inns'.

The fundraising methods have yet to be decided, and Coussins continued: We needed to get the agreement signed before the systematic programme could begin.' It is also unclear as to what projects will benefit from the sums.

Coussins added that the new agreement is a truly UK-wide' venture, following the signing up of the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Office. The Drinkaware Trust website,, is already up and running.