To celebrate Children of Alcoholics Week, actress Cherie Lunghi put into words the fears and isolation that many children experience when living with their parents’ problems with alcohol. She described how callers to the Nacoa helpline talk about living with unpredictable behaviour, being abused or ignored and witnessing aggression and violence, leaving them feeling anxious and depressed and different from other people.
“It’s night-time; I’m lying on a mattress in my parent’s bedroom, and watching my mum pour paraffin over my dad who’s asleep in their bed. She goes to light a match. I don’t really understand what I’m seeing but know something’s wrong. I go and look for my sister and my little brother; I find them under his bed, shaking. We spend the night there. I don’t remember anyone coming to look for us.”
The Nacoa helpline was set up to empower children of alcoholics with a variety of life skills to help them cope with many difficult challenges. Telephone and email helplines allow children access to help and support without revealing themselves. Their need for privacy and control is respected.
Nacoa has responded to over 200,000 calls from children as young as five, who find the courage to call the helpline knowing that they can remain anonymous; freeing them to talk openly, by allowing them to remain in control.
Cherie ended by saying “And here we are in the 5th UK Children of Alcoholics Week talking out loud about the problems these children face and the help and support which grew from the hopes and dreams of Nacoa’s five founders which is now available. Tonight, all around the world – through international COA Week in the US, Brazil and across Europe – we are reaching out to those who need help and support and we thank those that give it.”
The annual David Stafford Memorial Lecture was held during COA Week on Tuesday 12 February 2013 in London providing the opportunity for members, supporters, volunteers and professionals to come together to break the silence which enshrouds alcohol problems in the family.
Cherie Lunghi is an English film, television and theatre actress. Her long list of TV credits include football manageress Gabriella Benson in the 1990s television series The Manageress, a memorable series of adverts for Kenco coffee and competing in Strictly Come Dancing. In 2007 she joined Nacoa Patron Geraldine James at The Vintners’ Company fundraising dinner and helped to raise £44,000 to support the Nacoa helpline.