A Kings Langley woman, whose mother battled addiction, has used her own experiences to help support troubled teenagers.
Emma Spiegler, 29, of Ovaltine Drive, was recently named as one of the Future 100 Young Social Entrepreneurs for 2011.
She received the prestigious title after founding and acting as managing director of company Children of Addicted Parents and People (COAP).
The online organisation provides advice and support to young people whose family members are dealing with addiction - whether it is gambling, alcohol or drugs.
For Ms Spiegler, the idea to set up the online community came from her own experiences as a child coping with a relative with addiction issues .
She said: “My mum was addicted to alcohol and prescribed pain killers while I was growing up.
“It was a tough time, I really struggled to cope.
“At about ten years old I knew something was wrong with my mum, but didn’t know what to do about it. I had no-one I felt I could turn to really.”
Determined to help other teenagers, Ms Spiegler hit upon the idea of creating an online community, where members could post anonymous messages asking for advice.
The website, which has been running for more than five years, so far has collected more than 1,600 messages posted from children across the UK.
COAP provides about 15 online mentors, who offer support and free online counselling to members.
Following the hard work and efforts of the Ms Spiegler, she was named as one of the Future 100 Young Social Entrepreneurs for 2011 on November 17, during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The award recognises the success of young entrepreneurs aged from 18 to 35, who demonstrate entrepreneurial flair and innovation in advancing a responsible business venture.
Ms Spiegler said: “I couldn’t believe I won the accolade, I was absolutely stunned.
“It’s a great pat on the back and I like to think we are making a difference to the many young people struggling to cope across the UK.
“It is so important for young people to know that there are about seven million children and teenagers affected by parental addiction across the UK.
“And it can be so tough to grow up with a parent or family member’s addiction.
“For me it was the hopelessness of it all that used to get me really down and depressed - seeing my mum destroy herself and thinking to myself she may never stop drinking and have a life and be happy.”
To find out more about COAP visit: http://www.coap.org.uk/