St Helens Council and its partners have successfully secured £275,772 of grant funding for ‘Building Bridges’, an ambitious and innovative new project that will support children of alcohol dependent parents locally.
Earlier this year, £4.5m of joint innovation funding, aimed at improving the support services for children of alcohol dependent parents, was committed by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
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St Helens is one of only eight local authorities across the country to be awarded funds, and one of three in the North West, alongside Knowsley and Rochdale – following a strong and successful application to Public Health England (PHE), which is managing the funding scheme.
It is estimated that there are 200,000 children in England living with 120,000 parents who have alcohol problems. In St Helens it is estimated that there may be almost 600 people who are alcohol dependent and live with children, many of whom are not currently in treatment.
The impact of a parent’s alcohol problem on the lives of children can be devastating. Alcohol is also often a major contributor to parental conflict, which can affect children’s education, health, wellbeing and even future employment opportunities.
St Helens Building Bridges will tackle these issues. The local substance misuse service CGL (Change Grow Live) will work with schools and children’s services to recognise when alcohol is a problem. Families will then be offered support, depending on their needs, through three key programmes:
· A six-week ‘Stay Safe’ brief intervention programme for parents will raise awareness of and reduce the impact of alcohol harm.
· A Confident Families programme that will support families to develop healthy relationships, exploring behaviours, coping strategies and improving relationships to reduce parental conflict.
· A higher intensity family intervention called MPACT (Moving Parents and Children closer Together).
Councillor Gill Neal, Cabinet Member for Better Health and Building Arts & Culture, said: “We have made many positive steps in recent years to tackle alcohol related harm in St Helens with our partners in CGL and St Helens CCG, but the devastating impact of alcohol abuse by parents on their children is an issue that requires focused and coordinated intervention.
“Our new Building Bridges project will do just that. The funding will provide the additional resources, monitoring and evaluation required to pioneer our ambitious and innovative programme. With expert support and a holistic approach, we and our partners will build on the good practice already in place in St Helens, increasing the resilience of families and improving the outcomes of local children, thereby reducing pressure on our strained health and social care services.”
Rachel Fance, Service Manager at Change Grow Live’s St Helens Integrated Recovery Service said: “The impact of parents’ harmful drinking on children cannot be ignored and we are very pleased that Public Health England is supporting our innovative work in this area under the exciting partnership of St Helens Cares.
“With this new Innovation Funding, we look forward to developing our existing programme of work with St Helens Children’s Services and build relationships further with local schools and police. Building Bridges will enable CGL to work proactively and creatively to improve the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of children and young people affected by parental alcohol misuse. We will also be expanding our intensive work with families to support the reduction of parental conflict and the development of healthy relationships.”
Commenting on the innovation fund winning projects, Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, Deputy Director Health and Wellbeing at PHE North West, said:
“We know that there are around 200,000 children across the country living with a parent with alcohol problems. Not only is it tearing their lives apart now, it can often follow them into adulthood and cause endless personal problems.
“There is some fantastic, innovative work taking place across the North West that is helping to tackle this problem daily. I’m delighted that we’re able to announce three North West winners and support them in reaching out and giving much needed help to these vulnerable children.”