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‘Family friendly’ service launches for Doncaster parents with substance misuse problems

A new harm reduction service is aiming to create safer and happier homes for Doncaster children by tackling problematic drug and alcohol use by some parents.

Aspire Drug and Alcohol Services’ newly created Parenting Support Team is looking to help families across the borough where at least one parent has an alcohol or drug use problem that is impacting on home life.

“We want to help those parents who need support to make changes to their lifestyle that will lead to a more enjoyable family life. Following an assessment of their needs we will co-create a personalised support plan to help them achieve their goals”, said Maggie Walley, from Aspire, which is managed by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) in partnership with registered charity The Alcohol and Drug Service.

“It’s the first time a ‘family friendly’ service of this kind has operated in Doncaster and is open to people aged over 18 living in the borough who have caring responsibilities for children.

“We ask that parents who are registered are open to understanding how substance misuse impacts on their and their wider family members lives and be willing to help develop a support plan tailored to their individual needs.

“It’s the first time a ‘family friendly’ service of this kind has operated in Doncaster and is open to over 18s living in the borough who have caring responsibilities for children.

“We aim to work in a more flexible way with parents and offer more intense support. We are based at the Changing Lives charity in the town centre and able to offer a mixture of appointments there, at people’s homes and at Family Hubs, making Aspire as a service more accessible. This is because we recognise the stigma parents can often feel coming to our current buildings and how this can be a massive barrier to accessing our service.”

The parenting support service, which is funded by Doncaster Public Health, offers:

  • Information and harm reduction advice on substance misuse.
  • One to one keyworker support for up to three months and can be extended to a maximum six months if necessary.
  • ‘Early Help’ support
  • ‘Enhanced support in the form of some home visits or appointments at more ‘family friendly’ locations such as, family hubs and the Changing Lives service.
  • Access to ASPIRE groups or other local support.
  • Individualised self-help packages, including online, workbooks and virtual recovery support groups.
  • Referrals to other organisations such as, MIND, the Domestic Abuse Hub and mental health services.

According to the latest Doncaster Alcohol Needs Assessment, 13,000 Doncaster children could live in a household where a parent drinks too much, and national research suggests that 20 per cent of English adults who have an alcohol dependence have children living with them. If this figure is applied to the number of dependent drinkers in Doncaster then over 850 local children could potentially be affected.

Maggie added: “Living in a household where a parent or carer misuses substances does not mean a child will necessarily experience any significant harm but children growing up around substance misuse are more likely to face problems later in life. The Covid 19 pandemic has also contributed to this increase, as well as potentially other hidden harms.

“We know from research that supporting parents and carers to overcome their misuse problems can have positive effects on their children and within Aspire we are excited to be able to launch this new way of working.

“We take referrals from a number of organisations and parents worried about their drug and or alcohol misuse can contact us by ringing 01302 730956 and quoting ‘parenting’ or asking their family support worker/early help coordinator for more information.”

  • If you or someone you know is experiencing drug or alcohol issues and want to talk to someone in confidence please visit  www.aspire.community, or ring 01302 730956.