Sikh community target of Alcohol Awareness campaign


A midlands charity is seeking to tackle the taboo issue of alcohol misuse in the Sikh community as part of Alcohol Awareness Week.

Aquarius, part of Recovery Focus, is working to tackle growing alcohol misuse in Sikh Punjabi community after research from the University of Bedfordshire found they’re ‘slipping through the net’ of services.

The charity has launched a new project called ‘Shanti’ to raise awareness and support communities. So far they’ve spoken to over 800 children in schools and Gurduwaras about alcohol and spoke with over 100 people at the Birmingham and Sandwell Mela in July.

‘Shanti’, which means ‘being at peace and taking care of oneself’ in Punjabi, is running for three years thanks to lottery funding and will provide support and advice for people in the Sikh community as well as helping to raise awareness of alcohol and risks of alcohol misuse.

Pritpal Surj from Aquarius is the joint lead of the Shanti project alongside Aquarius colleague Jennifer Shergill. He said:

sikh2“Alcohol misuse is a taboo issue in the Sikh Punjabi community and has gone under the radar for a long time. However it’s a growing issue and one that is being missed by current services in Birmingham.

“Shanti will connect with communities throughout the area, bridging gaps, providing support and sharing vital information about alcohol misuse and the risks associated with it.”

Data collected by Aquarius showed that 16% of people accessing alcohol misuse services identified as Asian or Asian British, but that knowledge of the harms of alcohol misuse was not widely known in that group.

The data also showed an increase in incidents of domestic violence, hospital admissions and financial difficulties as a result of alcohol abuse.

Pritpal added: “From working with the University of Bedfordshire and from our own data we’ve seen a growing number of people from the Sikh Punjabi community accessing support for alcohol misuse.

“However barriers such as language, a lack of awareness and alcohol being a cultural taboo has allowed the issue to grow over time.

“We’ll be speaking directly to the Sikh Punjabi community and working past the taboo and stigma surrounding alcohol so that we can provide meaningful information and support that will ultimately help families who’re struggling with the impacts of alcohol misuse.”

Aquarius are seeking to raise awareness of the project as part of Alcohol Awareness Week which runs from 14 November.

The three-year project will see Aquarius link up with Gurdwaras, local schools as well as community centres to provide information and awareness of alcohol misuse and its impacts.

For more information on Shanti and the work Aquarius do, email: or visit


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