A new programme, which aims to help families whose lives have been affected by alcohol, will be rolled out in Swindon thanks to funding from the Government.

Swindon Borough Council’s Public Health team have been awarded £577,400 over three years through a £4.5 million innovation fund from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The fund, which is managed by Public Health England (PHE), has today been awarded to just nine projects across the country.

In Swindon the programme will support children whose lives are being negatively impacted by their parents’ alcohol use, while also encouraging parents to reflect on how their drinking habits are affecting their children.

The funding will be used to build a multi-agency, family-focused team to identify and meet the needs of children whose parents are alcohol dependent.

This will see three specialist support practitioners being employed to offer children and young people a safe space to talk in order to help them express and understand how alcohol, domestic abuse and parental mental health has impacted on them. The practitioners will also uncover the extent of parents’ alcohol use.

A child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) outreach service will also be used to target children of alcohol-misusing parents where the child is displaying poor mental health.

In addition, a specialist post within the adult alcohol treatment team will be created with a focus of engaging with an increasing number of parents with alcohol dependency issues and adult mental health primary care services (IAPT LIFT) will provide support for adults addressing alcohol-related parental conflict and specialist trauma support for those experience domestic abuse.

The new team willbe supported by training and peer mentoring from a range of partners.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “I am absolutely delighted the Government has recognised the value of our programme which aims to provide support to those children who are dealing with the fallout of alcohol misuse on a daily basis.

“We want to provide support to those vulnerable children, but also engage with parents to ensure they receive the help they need to overcome their own problems with alcohol.

“Our project will provide a virtual hub working with schools, substance misuse services, adult and children’s mental health services, peer support services and training providers to tackle the harm to children caused by alcohol misuse. It is estimated we have 419 alcohol-dependant parents living with children in Swindon and an estimated 765 children who live with these parents. We know that we are not reaching all of those parents and children and this project will focus resources where it is most needed to support parents to address their dependency and the impact their drinking has on their children.

“The success of the funding bid also allows us to shine a light on the issue and to encourage anyone who is concerned about how alcohol is affecting them or a loved one, to access initial support through Turning Point at:  http://wellbeing.turning-point.co.uk/swindon-and-wiltshire

Commenting on the innovation fund winning projects, Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at PHE said: “There are about 200,000 children whose lives are often torn apart from living with a parent with alcohol problems, which often haunts them into adulthood and can lead to a lifetime of under-achievement and personal problems.

“That is why I’m delighted to be announcing the 9 winners receiving funding, which will provide new and innovative ways of working to identify and reach out to these vulnerable children.”

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