Laura Willoughby stopped drinking four years ago. Rather than turning to Alcoholics Anonymous, she created Club Soda – a community to help people change their drinking behaviour. Whether they’re trying to cut down, stop for a bit or quit alcohol altogether. It’s a bit like Weight Watchers. But for booze.
Her motivation is simple. “We feel happier and healthier because we’ve changed our drinking, and we want to make it possible for more people to do the same and be successful”. DOSE talks to Laura about the Club Soda movement and how you can get involved…
What is Club Soda?
Club Soda is a movement of people changing their drinking, whether they want to do a sober sprint, drink more mindfully or go alcohol free. We support everyone doing a self-guided journey to change their drinking habits. As a large and supportive community, we run online courses and social events, they are all on joinclubsoda.co.uk. We have also just launched our first pub guide for mindful drinkers – clubsodaguide.com
What inspired you to start Club Soda?
I gave up drinking over four years ago now, and I realised there were lots of people like me, who wanted to break a habit that was spinning out of control. AA and other services for dependent drinkers just don’t fit the bill. I describe us a bit like Weight Watchers but for booze. It is your goal, your journey, but with our support. We’ve got your back.
What were you doing before this?
I ran a bank switching campaign called Move your Money, and I was an elected local councillor in Islington. I am a campaigner at heart, which I guess is why we feel like more of a movement than a health product.
Where can we find out more about Club Soda events?
Sign up to Club Soda online and you will get weekly emails supporting your journey, and all the event details too.
Who are your customers?
Men and women, mostly aged 30 and upwards. Alcohol is a bit age blind, but we tend to find that people get to a point when they are fed up of the hangovers or want to get fit, and realise alcohol is just empty calories and slows them down.
How do you feel about people going sober in January post Christmas?
It is not a bad thing to do during any month of the year: we call it a Sober Sprint. If you are looking to moderate in the future it is a good hard reset, and if you are going alcohol-free, a month is a good first step. You don’t realise how hardwired alcohol is into everything we do until you take a month off.
Tell us about your average working day in four sentences?
I give lots of one-to-one advice on our community starting with a 6am check-in online. At the minute we are spending lots of time in pubs supporting them to get a better range of low and non alcohol drinks on their shelves. But most of all, like any start up, we are busy with everything from doing the accounts to writing blogs.
Do you enjoy exercise and if so, what type and why?
This is my New Year’s resolution. I don’t have a particular exercise I enjoy, and I need to find one that will help me deal with stress.
Favourite healthy restaurant in London.
I am a big fan of Redemption Bar – all good food and a great range of non-alcoholic drinks.
Does this take me further away from or closer to my goal?
You can sign-up to Club Soda courses here