Radical plans are under way to open the first alcohol-free bar in Leeds.
Scott Bell and his fiancee Marie Park came up with the idea for “incLucid” after visiting dry bar The Brink in Liverpool, set up by the charity Action on Addiction.
Scott, a co-production and community engagement worker, said they were so inspired by the social enterprise they were eager to bring the concept to Leeds.
The 38-year-old former Allerton Grange High pupil, said: “Afterwards we just paced the floor thinking ‘why doesn’t Leeds have this?’”
He added: “Our ambition is for a great place for entertainment, food and non-alcoholic drinks for all of us that don’t drink alcohol but want a great night out; but also that it’s a place where people in recovery can start getting back into the world of work.”
The couple have teamed up with several other individuals and are working with Leeds Co-Producing Health – part of the Centre for Innovation in Health Management (CIHM) at Leeds University Business School.
Their goal is to secure premises somewhere like Leeds city centre or Headingley by the beginning of 2016.
They estimate the project will cost at least £350,000 and are hoping to attract funding from charities and other organisations. Alcohol charities in hard-drinking cities such as Liverpool and Nottingham now run dry bars.
Scott, who lives in Moortown, is a former heroin addict who has turned his life around and now works for Developing Initiatives for Support in the Community (DISC), helping others to change their lives too.
He said: “It feels like culturally our whole socialising structure is built around ‘shall we go out for a drink’ and that limits socialising for somebody like myself who is in recovery, where a drink can lead to inhibitions being lowered and the risk of relapse greatens as a result – or for people who don’t drink for religious or cultural reasons, or reasons of preference.”
He said the National Union of Students (NUS) was backing the idea, saying growing numbers of students were battling peer-group pressure and choosing not to drink. But he said there was work to be done to change people’s preconceptions.
“People’s first reaction to the idea of an alcohol-free bar is to furrow their brow but then you leave it for a minute and they usually like the concept.”
The team are now organising pop-up nights to test out their non-alcoholic cocktails and garner support for incLucid.
The first session is on October 3 from 6pm when they will be serving Light Night themed “mocktails” at Holy Trinity Church community arts centre on Boar Lane, Leeds city centre.