An alcohol-free bar has opened in Liverpool aimed at helping people recovering from drink and drug addiction.
The Brink on Parr Street is a social enterprise where three-quarters of the staff are recovering alcoholics or drug addicts and is Liverpool’s first dry bar.
Jacquie Johnston-Lynch from Action on Addiction – which runs the project – said the idea for the Brink came after discussions with users of the charity’s services who said they wanted a place where they could socialise that didn’t sell alcohol but wasn’t a venue cut off from the rest of the community.
“We opted for not having anything like what addicts have always been offered, which is backstreet cafes, community centres and church halls,” said Johnston-Lynch. “We wanted something that really was upbeat because we felt that addicts shouldn’t be treated as though they were lesser people.
“But lots of organisations in the addiction field thought we wouldn’t be able to get former addicts and members of the mainstream public together in one venue. They thought that a recovery centre for alcoholics could work, but they couldn’t see how the two communities congregating together in one space could work.
“However we were determined that we didn’t make this a venue where the stigma of being a former alcoholic was reinforced.”
Johnston-Lynch worked with architects and designers who reduced their normal fees and helped create an interior design and brand image that has won the praise of local media and customers. Recently the Brink won a Morgan Foundation award, which recognises trailblazing businesses in the North Wales, Merseyside and West Cheshire areas.
“There’s a real mixture of people who come to the Brink,” she said.
“As well as recovering addicts, there might be students or musicians but you don’t know who the recovering addicts are – you can’t spot them. That’s one of the things that people say they really like about the place.”
Dry bars are not new. Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar in Rawtenstall, one of the last surviving temperance bars, opened in 1890.
But the Brink is different. Its backroom will be used for addiction counselling.
Johnston-Lynch is hoping that its smoothies and teas such as popcorn tea and chocolate tea, locally sourced organic food and events including lectures, film nights and concerts will help it produce a profit that will go back into Action on Addiction rehabilitation programmes.
“We’re trying to drive home the message that recovering addicts can go where they like rather than having to meet in dark backstreet venues,” she said.
“We thought if we’re going to do this, why not break down stigma?”