A children’s charity has discovered it is receiving record numbers of calls in the West Midlands to its helpline for parents who drink and take drugs during a blockage.
The NSPCC said the number of calls it is receiving from the region each month raising concerns about child welfare has increased during the pandemic.
The number of these calls that are serious enough to refer to police or social services has increased by 72 percent to pre-blocking levels.
Figures released today (Wednesday, February 17) show that prior to the blockade (January – March 22, 2020) there were 215 referrals to police / social services in the Midlands – an average of 84 per month.
During the block (April 2020 to January 2021), this amounted to 1,444 referrals – an average of 144 per month – an increase of 72 percent.
The NSPCC said calls to its helpline were made either by the child himself or by a concerned adult such as a friend, neighbor, teacher or relative.
References were made to the police or social services only when the NSPCC felt that the child’s well-being was in danger due to substance abuse.
This is when an adult who is in charge of caring for a child misuses drugs or alcohol. This may include prescription drugs, illegal medications or excessive drinking.
The pandemic has made children more at home due to school closures – meaning there is no escape for those living with parents or caregivers who drink too much or take drugs.
Kam Thandi, from the NSPCC, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent blockages have created a perfect storm for addiction-affected families.
At the NSPCC Helpline, we have not only seen an increase in contacts and referrals, but we have also seen families who were not previously known for child services seeking help and support for substance abuse.
“The pressure on families at the moment is unprecedented and it is not surprising that our helpline is hearing that parents and carers are struggling with substance abuse.”
The charity is calling on the Government to invest more in local support services as the pandemic and blockade continue.
* Anyone who thinks a child is at risk should call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.
There is also an online support group Adfam.org.uk.
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