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NSPCC reveals helpline calls have doubled in East of England

The number of NSPCC referrals for drugs and alcohol to agencies across the East of England has more than doubled during the pandemic.

Latest figures reveal the monthly average number of calls to the NSPCC helpline for parental substance misuse is up 66 per cent since April 2020.

Kam Thandi, head of NSPCC Helpline said: “Parental substance misuse can have a seriously detrimental impact on the whole family. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have created a perfect storm for families affected by this problem.

Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are going up. Stock picture (44447276)
Figures from the NSPCC show levels of neglect are going up. Stock picture (44447276)

“At the NSPCC helpline we’ve not only seen a rise in contacts and referrals but we’re also hearing from families who weren’t previously known to children’s services requiring help and support for substance misuse.

“The pressures on families at the moment are unprecedented and it is no surprise that our helpline is hearing that parents and carers are struggling with substance misuse. To keep our children safe it’s vital that those who are relying on drugs and alcohol, to the extent that the care of their children is being compromised, must seek help.

Before the first national lockdown, there was an average of 709 calls per month from adults concerned about a child's wellbeing.

In the 10 months since, that figure has increased to a monthly average of 1,178 per month. Many of these calls are so serious they had to be reported to the police or children's services.

Prior to the first lockdown, there were on average 51 referrals per month across the East of England.

This figure has increased to 126 referrals per month since lockdown measures were introduced at the end of March, with a total of 1,259 referrals made over the last 10 months.

The NSPCC works alongside addiction charity, Adfam. Chief executive of the charity, Vivienne Evans, said: “We are seeing that the usual daily challenges associated with a parent or family member’s alcohol or drug problem – fear, domestic abuse, isolation, loneliness, and mental stress – are being exacerbated by the lockdown measures.

“As drug and alcohol misuse is so stigmatised, we know that many young people are scared to seek support. We know that with the right kind of support, children and young people can navigate this challenging time. We urge families not to wait until breaking point."

This week marks Children of Alcoholics Week and the NSPCC are urging anyone with concerns about a child to contact the helpline for support on 0808 800 5000 or visit www.Adfam.org.uk

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