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'More must be done to support children affected by parental drinking'
A Kings Langley woman whose own childhood was blighted by her mother’s battles against alcoholism has called for more to be done to help the estimated six million children affected by parental drinking.
Emma Spiegler, 30, set up Children of Addicted Parents and People (COAP) in 2006 after finding little help and support available to her as the child of an alcoholic.
The "Silent Voices" report published last week by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner revealed that more than 30 per cent of children live with either a hazardous drinker, a harmful drinker or a dependent drinker.
And Ms Speigler has called for more to be done to support young people affected by parental drinking.
She said: "I set up the charity in 2006 because I grew up with mum’s addiction to alcohol and painkillers. I wanted to create a place where children could come to share their experiences with others.
"One of the biggest things for me was just feeling so alone with it all.
"As a child I didn’t feel like I could speak to anyone about what I was going through.
"The Silent Voices report shows as many as one in three children are affected by parental drinking.
"This is a massive problem in the UK and not enough is being done about it."
Since setting up the charity Ms Speigler has made a string of media appearances and in 2011 was voted one of the Future 100 Young Social Entrepreneurs for 2011.
She said one of the main functions of the site is the messageboard which allows young people affected by an adult’s binge drinking to connect with people in a similar situation and find support in shared experiences.
She said: "We just want to bring people together. The charity was something that had been building inside me for a while. It was when mum stopped drinking that it came together - she went to rehab in Scotland eight years ago and the doctor explained what was going on in her brain.
"We are getting 25,000 hits per year and 3,000 messages are being posted on our message boards but the main thing is to share my story and advertise through search engines.
"Whenever we do stuff in the media we get a lot of people writing to tell us it was the first time they have heard someone telling a similar story to their own."
The report recommends the Government encourages local authorities and health bodies to be more vigilant to issues related to adult alcohol abuse when dealing with children.
Anybody wanting to support the charity can visit http://www.coap.org.uk/.