febfast is a challenge and a tonic for all drinkers, to see if they can take a break from alcohol for the 28 days of February. This short break is both a timely health kick and a vital community fundraiser: money raised helps programs for vulnerable families and young adults tackling serious alcohol and drug issues.
The idea for turning an alcohol free month into a fundraiser was conceived at a BBQ a few days before Christmas in 2006.
Fiona Healy, febfast’s founder, remembers the conversation (despite the wine), “A bunch of us were opening a bottle of wine but lamenting how a month of festivities was starting to take its toll. My mate and I decided to follow through on the idea of taking a month off the grog for charity in February 2007. We raised $910, which we donated to the Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS). It kinda made sense to give to a charity whose sole purpose was to help young people face their own problems with alcohol and substance use.”
From there Fiona decided to turn the concept into a fully fledged charitable trust. The following five febfasts have seen over 20,000 Australians take up the challenge to have a month off the grog and, collectively, take over 700,000 days off alcohol. The best part? In this time, febfasters have raised over $4.5 million for 43 programs across Australia which help young people overcome alcohol and drug issues.
There have been many debates about the philosophy behind febfast – but in fact it’s pretty simple.
Those of us behind febfast don’t mind a drink, but we absolutely recognise that it can’t hurt to take 28 days off alcohol, do something good for our bodies and, at the same time, raise funds to help young people overcome serious substance use problems.
At febfast, we believe that individual choices should be respected and responsibility should be taken for our own decisions. We’re not into telling people how to live their lives and we don’t criticize people for drinking. (We even give fasters a legitimate ‘Got out of jail free’ card for special occasions in February.) We get loads of feedback each year from people who have learned more about why, when, how often and how much they drink. We understand that it’s really up to the individual to come to their own conclusion about that stuff.
The bottom line is that it’s not too hard for the average Joe – everyone but those with serious alcohol dependency problems – to have a crack at taking a month off alcohol. You might be standing out from the crowd for a little while but there’s nothing wrong with having a short break and you don’t have to live in a cave for the month. Trust us – it doesn’t hurt that much! And, best of all, through your fundraising efforts you will have positively contributed to the lives of young people who are really struggling with serious alcohol and drug issues.
As National Director of febfast, I’m at pains to point out that I’m NOT the ‘Bar Man’s enemy’. Indeed, some of my best mates have worked behind the bar pulling pots and sharing their wisdom.
With a young family, a busy lifestyle and a metabolism that is no longer thirty years old, I’ve come to the realisation that having a drink at the end of a long day is not always the right answer.
So, for febfast 2013, I’ll be braving a whole new world of abstinence during February. Care to join me?
Bizarrely, I get a lot of joy out of watching people’s reactions to my telling them that I convince people to give up alcohol (albeit temporarily) for a living. In my experience, there’s about an even split between those who are fascinated by the concept, ambition and good will of febfast, those who think mine is the most pointless and futile job in the world and those who’s eyes simply glaze over (as if I’ve just explained that Santa doesn’t exist). For me, it’s these reactions which make febfast HQ a pretty fascinating place.
HOUSE OF FEBFAST
The febfast Ancillary Fund Trust has been governed by YSAS Pty. Ltd. since October 2011.
Established in 1998, the Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is an accredited community service organisation that provides a range of innovative and client-centred services to vulnerable young people aged 10 – 25 years who are affected by issues such as social disconnection, drug and alcohol use and mental health problems.
Operating across metropolitan and regional Victoria, YSAS’s work includes direct client care, health promotion, public policy advocacy, research, education and training, community development and prevention.
Visit the YSAS website to find out more.