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The Silent Killer – Edinburgh College of Art project

The British Liver Trust and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems have recently published the results of Edinburgh College of Art students’ ideas for an alcohol related liver disease awareness-raising campaign which have innovative and powerful messages.

This unique programme came about through a series of meetings between the British Liver Trust and Mal Burkinshaw from Edinburgh College of Art. Mal was willing to “bravely” challenge the taboos associated with the disease, with the goal of drawing awareness to them through the media of fashion - through workshops, keynote addresses and ultimately, in an award ceremony for the students.

A number of key contributors were approached, namely Professor Helen Storey, Debra Bourne, Professor Ronan O’Carroll and Jonny Johannson. All were extremely supportive and gave essential support to the programme where they could. The initial workshop which started the programme was hosted by Professor Helen Storey.

The results and awards ceremony was held on 28th May 2014 and was followed by a Parliamentary reception, sponsored by Willie Rennie MSP, to showcase the publications and to offer clinicians, policy makers and service providers the opportunity to discuss how best to tackle the growing problem of liver disease. The event aimed to raise awareness of the project and help ensure that the key messages about alcohol related liver disease were disseminated as widely as possible.

The students projects are:

Conscious band snapshot              Handbag snapshot       

   It's trending snapshot            The look to die for snapshot

Key organisations involved in the project commented as follows:

Andrew Langford, Chief Executive, British Liver Trust, “The British Liver Trust is delighted to be a part of this imaginative project designed to highlight the catastrophic effect of alcohol-related liver disease. As Scotland is disproportionately affected by this disease, we believe that we need to get information out to young people in new ways that they can relate to that will enable them to make healthy lifestyle choices. These superb publications of the students’ work give everyone an ideal opportunity to engage and discuss liver health with younger people, and many others too”.

Eric Carlin, Director, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, “Scotland’s problems with excessive alcohol consumption are well-known. Increasingly alcohol-related liver disease is being found in younger adults. It is very timely that students from the Edinburgh College of Art have been thinking about campaigns that might raise awareness of health risks from alcohol consumption. By showcasing their ideas in the Scottish Parliament we hope to give students the recognition which their work deserves, while ensuring that the problems of alcohol-related liver disease remain in the political spotlight”.

Prof Derek Bell, President, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE), “The RCPE is pleased to have been involved in supporting this project which has sought to encourage innovative ideas from local art students aimed at reducing excessive alcohol consumption in Scotland. These ideas present an interesting and fresh perspective on this public health challenge and it would be appropriate to test their suitability on young people prior to determining if they may have wider potential"