Putting families first in alcohol policy

Tuesday 3 July 2018 was a momentous day for the Alcohol and Families Alliance. It saw almost 50 people – including MPs, an array of organisations from the alcohol and children and families sectors, and those with lived experience – gather together in Parliament for the launch of Families First: an evidence-based approach to protecting UK families from alcohol-related harm.

Caroline Flint MP, Fiona Bruce MP, Steve Brine MP (Public Health Minister), Vivienne Evans (CEO, Adfam) and Liam Byrne MP at the launch of Families First. Photo: Institute of Alcohol Studies.

This bold plan argues for children and families to be at the heart of the Government’s new alcohol strategy, building on the Government’s plans to help children of alcohol-dependent parents which were unveiled earlier this year. Recommendations include having evidence-based support for families affected by alcohol available in every local authority, action to better identify and support carers, better information for parents to inform their own drinking, and steps to address the wider role of alcohol in society. We know that alcohol misuse can have a devastating impact on families; now is the time to act.

This was brought home as a family member shared how her father’s alcohol problem had affected her, and how difficult it is for families to speak out. Caroline Flint MP, Fiona Bruce MP and Liam Byrne MP all spoke about the need for action, and issued a rallying cry to raise awareness of alcohol-related harm to families and fight for change.

Parliamentary Launch of Families First. Photo: Cheryl P.

And the Government is listening. Steve Brine MP, the Public Health Minister, opened the launch event with supportive comments and a commitment to officially respond to Families First as if it were a select committee report, and stressed his willingness to partner with the voluntary sector to take this forward.

This is an exciting time for the Alcohol and Families Alliance, but we must not be complacent. As Naomi Eisenstadt, Chair of the AFA, said we need to make sure that alcohol and families stays on the agenda. Adfam and the Alcohol and Families Alliance will be doing just that over the coming months.

The Alcohol and Families Alliance was set up in 2013 by Adfam and Alcohol Concern. It is now comprised of almost 40 organisations from across the alcohol and children and families sectors. Find out more at www.alcoholandfamiliesalliance.org.