A NUMBER of local businesses joined representatives from Horsham District Council, Horsham Matters and Sussex Central YMCA at the launch of the ‘Dragon’s Den Mocktails’ project earlier this month.

The project, named ‘Dragon’s Den Mocktails’, is an interactive project supporting young people to consider fun, healthy and safe alternatives to alcohol, while also developing key employability skills.

Students will have the opportunity to taste test some well known non alcoholic cocktails, also known as mocktails, during the project and take part in discussions around the benefits of drinking non alcoholic cocktails.

The small teams of students will then compete to design their own ‘mocktail’ before pitching their ideas to a panel of judges, similar to the format of the BBC’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ TV show, which will be made up of local business, health and youth work representatives.

A launch event was held for the new and innovative project at the Y Centre in Horsham to explain what it is and to invite businesses in the Horsham District to support this initiative.

The project has been developed by Horsham District Council, Sussex Central YMCA and Horsham Matters.

The project, targeted at year nine students aged 14 and 15, will bring together new partners, especially those from education, business, industry and retail sectors, in engaging children and young people in alcohol education and intervention. Businesses at the launch included South Lodge Country House Hotel and B52’s bar, which are both based in and around Horsham.

Representatives from Horsham and Billingshurst Rotary Clubs and Sussex Police were also at the event held in early October.

These organisations are among a number of businesses who have so far pledged their support for the project, which aims to deliver a new, innovative education programme around safe and responsible alcohol use whilst also developing key employability skills.

Ian Matthews, Assistant Manager of B52’s bar in Horsham, said:

"B52's is proud to be involved in such a worthwhile and rewarding project and will be giving its full support to the scheme.

"By teaching young people the effects of alcohol at an influential stage in their lives, we have a real chance of having an impact socially within the local community."

Sophie Menhennett, Sales Co-ordinator at South Lodge Hotel near Horsham, said:

"South Lodge Hotel is delighted to support and be involved in this exciting new initiative within our community.?

"Alcohol and the abuse of it is an issue that hugely affects our society and we feel that this project will start educating youths at an influential age in a fun and thought provoking way."

The Project Team is keen to hear from other local businesses and organisations that want to get involved with the project.

This would give local businesses and organisations the opportunity to support a project that will help contribute to a healthier and safer district whilst also improving youth employability skills.

Cllr Sue Rogers, Horsham District Council’s Cabinet Member for a Safer and Healthier District, said:

"This is another first class example of an innovative approach to addressing a difficult problem, and the strength that such an excellent project can enjoy from working with business partners, such as those involved with Dragon's Den Mocktails."

Three schools in the Horsham District have already signed up to take part in the project and the first event is set to take place in November this year.

The Project Team is working with other schools in the District to confirm more dates.

For more information on the project or to get involved, contact Horsham District Council by calling 01403 215137 or email [email protected]

Full article here.