The Family Angle: October 2017

Everything you need to know about families, drugs and alcohol.

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I am fast approaching my eighth Adfam carol concert. They have all been wonderful events; a powerful mix of personal testimony, celebration and of course some stirring carols. We’ve welcomed a fantastic selection of guest readers, which may at times have tended towards the BBC Radio 4 end of the spectrum! This year is no different; we have had some very powerful submissions to our Family Voices creative writing competition and our Gary Seaman Award for outstanding practitioner. There’s just about still time to submit to either of these if you wish to.
If you can join us on December 6 please do, for what promises to be a lovely – and touching – evening. Buy tickets here.

In other news
  • Veronica, a family member we've worked with, explains what it’s like growing up with a heroin using parent on Victoria Derbyshire (1:26:25) and Channel 4. If you are interested in sharing your story with the media, please give us some details and we'll be in touch. 
  • Next month sees Alcohol Awareness Week – an initiative we are working with Alcohol Research UK / Alcohol Concern to support – which focuses on families and carers
  • Adfam is supporting Collective Voice on three events focused on the Drug Strategy and the updated “Orange Book” clinical treatment guidance: Halifax (Nov 15), Birmingham (Nov 17), London  (Nov 21)
Oliver Standing
Director of Policy and Communications

Regional roundup

We have
  • Held our East of England forum in Cambridge
  • Launched a new project with Inclusion in Buckinghamshire, championing families and embedding family support across their service
  • Met domestic abuse services across the North East as part of our new project supporting women affected by substance use and domestic abuse. 
To find out more please contact Becky Allon-Smith.

Parliamentary Roundup

Melanie Onn MP opened a Westminster Hall Debate on social security support for kinship carers. Caroline Dinenage MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, concluded by saying that her Department would consider the policies discussed and their impact on kinship carers.

Fiona Bruce MP asked the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department takes to ensure that the children of problem drinkers receive the support they need. Steve Brine MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, replied that the Government is considering what further support it can provide to tackle alcohol harms, particularly those experienced by families and children.

Jeff Smith MP asked Steve Brine MP, what assessment he had made of the ACMD’s advice on the level of funding for drug treatment services. Steve Brine MP replied that the Government is already investing £16 billion in public health services over this spending review period, and local authorities are best placed to make decisions on how to spend the public health grant.


Drug Policy in the West Midlands: Call for Evidence
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, is holding a summit focused on the reduction of drug related harm in the area. He is calling for evidence from the public and organisations involved in dealing with substance use to help to shape the agenda.

Families Living with Problem Gambling Sheffield Hallam University
This survey is for anyone who considers themselves a family member, friend or loved one of a person who has engaged in problem gambling. Commissioned by Gamble Aware, this survey will gather information about the experiences of family members, with a view to informing the education, prevention and treatment of gambling related harm.

Health and Care Survey 2017  Clinks 
This survey is for voluntary organisations working with people in contact with the criminal justice system and/or their families, in order to better understand the health and social care needs of people in contact with the criminal justice system, the services available to them, gaps, and priorities for change.


“Like sugar for adults” The effect of non-dependent parental drinking on children and families (pdf)
– Institute of Alcohol Studies, Alcohol and Families Alliance & Alcohol Focus Scotland
This new report brings together the findings from a public inquiry, focus groups and an online survey into the impact of non-dependent parental drinking on children and families. It shows that parents do not have to regularly drink large amounts of alcohol for their children to notice changes in their behaviour and experience negative impacts.

Talking with your children about New Psychoactive Substances and Club Drugs: A Handbook for Parents and Carers (pdf) – Mentor and Adfam
Mentor and Adfam have updated and re-launched their resource providing information and advice to parents and carers about New Psychoactive Substances and Club Drugs. It details the range of new substances, their effects, risk factors and the law. It also gives helpful advice on how to have effective conversations about drugs with children to keep them safe.

Carers Rights Day: Guide to getting involved (pdf) – Carers UK
Each year Carers UK hold Carers Rights Day to bring organisations across the UK together to help carers in their local community know their rights and find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to. This year it will take place on Friday 24 November. This guide outlines how you can get involved.  

National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illnes. Annual Report: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (pdf) – Manchester University
This report provides findings relating to people with mental illness who died by suicide or were convicted of homicide in 2005- 2015 across the four UK nations. Much of the risk to others from mental health patients was found to relate to co-existing drug or alcohol misuse. Also, a greater focus on alcohol and drug misuse is required as a key component of risk management in mental health care, with specialist substance misuse and mental health services working closely together. They have also produced an infographic with key messages (pdf).

Public Health Dashboard: Increasing the transparency of public health data 
– Public Health England (PHE) 
PHE has published a new local authority public health dashboard, outlining how each local authority ranks on key public health issues including drug treatment, alcohol treatment and NHS health checks. The dashboard will support local councillors and senior council officers in making decisions on how they prioritise resources across a range of public health service areas.

Revolving Door, Part 1: Are vulnerable children being overlooked?
– Action for Children
This report looks at the issue of vulnerable children not getting access to the support they need from statutory social care services due to their needs not being severe enough. Many children are being stuck in a revolving door into social care, in a cycle of referral and assessment, but only receiving help at crisis point.

In Focus: Good practice in the third-sector 

I returned a couple of weeks ago from “Prometheus” the University of Manchester’s Alliance Business School’s annual free conference for third-sector leaders. In Greek mythology Prometheus was a titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to human beings. I’m not quite sure how the analogy is intended to function – are charities the titans taking resources from the state to channel more effectively to the people perhaps? – but the couple of days spent in my home city were certainly very illuminating.
Whilst many speakers and attendees rightly flagged the challenges faced by those of us working for charities there were some notes of optimism. Two CEs had remarkably simple responses when asked what their main tip for leadership was: have an ambitious vision and keep positive. It’s sometimes tempting to see idealism as the preserve of the naïve youngster at the start of their career who wants to ‘change the world’ (surely not a bad thing?) but the conference made me reflect how powerful and liberating positive leadership can be. It creates space for hard work, innovation and welcomes failure. It allows people to develop and flourish.
The other thing that jumped out was a discussion of evidence. As someone with both operational and strategic stakes in many projects funded by charitable trusts and foundations I am used to collecting data from Adfam’s beneficiaries. Caroline Fiennes of Giving Evidence pointed out some of the difficulties that can arise when then happens, and experts in service delivery are asked to also measure impact. Plus a hard question – how can we really tell our work is doing good? There is a difference between feeling that something is helpful and knowing that it is.

Oliver Standing
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