STOP PRESS: Tuesday 10th February – I’ll be on BBC Somerset just after the 11am news talking about COA Week. Tune in on www.BBC.co.uk/somerset
What do Elle Macpherson, Geraldine James, Marco Pierre White, Belinda Carlisle, Lauren Booth and Abi Roberts all have in common?
They are uniting to raise awareness of the inaugural Children of Alcoholics Week, (COA Week) which takes place between the 8th and 14th February 2009.
The event was created by myself and a dedicated team of staff and volunteers at Bristol based charity The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa). They run a vital helpline and website for the estimated 3.6 million young and adult children of alcohol-dependent parents in the UK, many of whom live in confusion and isolation.
Regular readers here will know, I’m a COA myself and a very proud Trustee for Nacoa too.
Calls to the helpline come from children as young as 7 years old. That’s the age of the young girl in the campaign poster we hope will be printed out and put up in offices, doctors surgeries, libraries, schools and colleges around the country – please feel free to download it, print it and put it up anywhere you think it will help!
Growing up with a problem drinker in the family can have a lasting effect on the family as a whole. Michelin star chef Marco Pierre White told us, ‘Alcohol drunk to excess and on a regular basis can be a cause of great sadness and destruction’.
The primary objectives for the Week are to let children of alcoholics know there is support available for them and that they are not alone.
Co-founder of Nacoa, Hilary Henriques, asks you to put yourself in a COAs shoes, just for one moment and you’ll start to understand the fearful shadow they often live under. ‘Imagine coming home from school and dreading what you might find. Imagine having no friends because you’re too embarrassed to bring them home in case Mum or Dad are drunk, or worse. Imagine living in a home full of fear and having no one to turn to because everyone denies there’s a problem.’
In 2007, Nacoa received around 18,000 calls on their helpline.
In 2008, the figure rose to over 36,000 calls.
Additional Notes: *
- There are an estimated 920,000 children (under 18s) living with one or two alcohol dependent parents in the UK today.
- If you add to that the estimated number of adult COAs, you get a staggering total of 3.6 million with one or two alcohol dependent parents.
- Research from The National Association for Children of Alcoholics reveals familial alcoholism can affect all areas of a child’s life, from school life through to behavioural problems and compulsive disorders.
- Figures from helpline callers in 2007 show that around 10% have contemplated suicide, 13% are drinking heavily themselves, 11% are also experiencing sexual or physical abuse and 12% have mental well being issues.
- Aggression within the family environment is 6 times more common when parents suffer from alcoholism.
- Nacoa was founded to provide information, advice and support for children of alcohol dependent parents via a helpline 0800 358 3456 and website www.nacoa.org.uk
- Further information on other presenting problems commonly faced by COAs is available.
- * Source: The National Association for Children of Alcoholics.
Being a child of an alcohol dependent parent is rubbish.
Thanks for anything you can do to help spread the word,
TS x x x x x