Around 2.6 million children in the UK are affected by their parent's drinking.
In Brighton & Hove alone there are at least 1700, but unfortunately there could be many more children that feel unable to ask for support.
It can be really hard for children who are worried about their parent’s drinking. It can be even harder while families are at home together most of the time.
Children sometimes try to hide it so that no one knows. They might be scared about what could happen to themselves or their parents. Others might feel angry about what is happening or confused about why. Some children worry that it's their fault, but that’s not the case.
It’s really important they know they’re not alone and that support is available.
Get support in Brighton & Hove
The Back on Track project can support families when a parent or carer drinks too much. It can help children, young people or adults to find the right support for them, whether that’s one to one support, therapy, emotional support or advice.
Back on Track is made up of partners from the Oasis Project, RUOK, Young Carers Project, and works closely with Nacoa.
Sharing the message through the arts
In partnership with the council’s Back on Track project, street artists ‘The Postman’ and ‘Broken Hartist’ have created artwork that will be shared on posters and a mural in the city to encourage people to call Nacoa’s helpline.
One of the people featured is local mum and advocate, Ceri Walker:
“I realised being the voice of children of alcoholics was my purpose a few years ago, so I became a volunteer for Nacoa and the Oasis Project. I'm proud to say I’m working with the children at Young Oasis Creche. As an ambassador for Nacoa, and being responsible for delivering the communications for the Back on Track project, I always trying to think of new ways to reach children who need support. At the moment I’m writing a lesson plan for all secondary school children in Brighton & Hove, including films I’ve made and managing a street art project.
"My message is always the same, you are not alone, getting support can be a really positive step, I hope that eventually children don’t feel they have to keep this secret inside.”
To mark Children of Alcoholics (COA) Week, Ceri has shared a personal letter to her younger self which includes the lines:
“I think of your little face, as I look at my own babies now, and I think how on earth did you do it? How did you smile, and show up to every teacher that asked how you were, to every friend that asked why Mum wobbled when she walked. How did you keep the secret, and why could you never speak out?
“But then I remember, it’s because you didn’t ever know it was an option.”
Read Ceri’s full letter on the Nacoa website.
COA Week events
Now in it’s 13th year, Children of Alcoholics (COA) Week increases awareness of this, often hidden, problem to let the children and families affected know they’re not alone. In the UK, COA Week is led by the charity Nacoa UK who provide year-round support for children affected by parental alcohol problems.
Throughout the week, events will be held online, both locally and nationally, for you to find out more.
- Locally, the Oasis Project are hosting a Facebook Live conversation with a mum who will reflect on her own relationship with alcohol, and an adult child of an alcoholic who will discuss the many issues children may now be facing in lockdown, without the usual escape of school.
- Nationally, Elle Macpherson will deliver the keynote speech at this year’s COA Week lecture hosted by Nacoa.
Find out more about the impact of Covid-19