Sara Britcliffe MP asks government to support children of alcohol-dependent parents
Sara Britcliffe, Minister of Parliament for Hyndburn, asked in the House of Commons on 23 January what The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Victoria Atkins, and cabinet colleagues are doing to support children of alcohol-dependent parents.
In reply, the Health Secretary highlighted the government’s investment in drug and alcohol treatment services, together with funding for the more general local authority Family Hubs and Start for Life programme, which aims to better integrate existing health, social care and education services for children and families.
Sara responded by highlighting the cutting of the previous children of alcohol-dependent parents strategy and funding. She asked the Secretary of State to meet with her to discuss this matter, “as the children in these awful situations are some of the most vulnerable in society”.
We hope this meeting leads to further government support for children affected by their parent’s drinking.
“My mum was an alcoholic. She was the best woman that you could ever meet, and she loved me so much”Sara Britcliffe MP
Funding has thankfully increased for alcohol and drug treatment services after a decade of cuts. However, it is imperative to also support family members, including those whose loved ones are in the 80% of people with problems who are not accessing treatment.
Sara spoke about her own experience and the need for better support for children and families on GB News and in The Telegraph in July. Sara’s Mum died from her alcohol problem when Sara was just 9.
The secrecy and pressure
Sara speaks of being rescued by the fire service at age 4 when her mother had locked her in the house and gone out drinking. She described the secrecy that so many affected by addiction experience.
“She struggled throughout my life but she was very good at hiding it from my Dad. What she used to do was she used to take me up to bed and she’d then go and drink a bottle of vodka whilst I was tucked upstairs in bed. So my family didn’t realise what was happening really with her.”
And feeling responsible for her Mum:
“Anybody you met would tell me she adored me. And that was one of the problems because everybody would always say to me, as a young girl at the age of four, five, six years old, that the only way that she would stop drinking is because of me.
That pressure that existed as a little girl, that the only way that your mum would survive was for you to do something about it, that you could fix it. It wasn’t the case and that’s why I think a lot of support is needed for families of alcoholics.”
Thank you to Sara for sharing her incredibly powerful story and raising the issue in parliament. We hope with pressure from MPs, government will reinstate the strategy for children of alcohol-dependent parents.