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There are nearly 1100 alcohol dependent adults and 900 adults with opiate dependency living with children in Cumbria (Public Health England, 2020). This means that in an average secondary school, approximately 40 pupils are living with at least one parent displaying harmful alcohol or substance use and nine pupils experience domestic abuse and live with parents that have severe mental health conditions and alcohol or drug dependency.
Approximately one third of Child in Need assessments identify either parental alcohol or drug use as a factor causing concern for child protection services. The NSPCC report that they receive approximately 200 reports a week with concerns over parental alcohol and drug use and the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA) report that during the lockdowns, they were receiving double the number of calls that they usually do from children and young people struggling to cope with their challenging circumstances.
Harmful alcohol and substance use can impact on whole families and we have found that often we are working with different members of a family through our Adult Services, Friends and Family Service and Young Peoples’ Service. To ensure a holistic approach to supporting the whole family, we are piloting West Cumbria Family Support. This is a two year pilot project which focuses on supporting the whole family when they are affected by a parent’s alcohol or substance use. At present, families can be supported through the scheme for up to six months. To ensure this project is successful, we have appointed Angie Milfull to the newly created role of Family Support Co-ordinator and she will be supported by Sophie Ireland in her role as Family Support Worker. We will be looking to extend this project and roll it out countywide to enable us to help more children and their families affected by substance use.
Referrals to the service can also be made by professionals including: Children’s Services, A&E, youth workers, schools, GP surgeries, the police or any other professionals who work with children and families, so please share this with your colleagues and others in your network.
Referrals can be made by emailing AngieM@cadas.co.uk or by calling our free helpline on 0800 2 54 56 58 (line open 11am-6pm, Monday to Friday).