The North Yorkshire Family and Carers Service is re-launching to support carers who find their lives affected by misuse of drugs or alcohol in their family.
Carol Newmarch, who is based in Thirsk, will be offering a support service for grandparents living in North Yorkshire who have caring responsibilities for their grandchildren as a result of misuse of alcohol or drugs in the family. Not all of them will have official care orders, but may simply have found themselves bringing up a child or children at a point in their lives when most expect to have more leisure time or retirement. The service also offers support to people who are caring for under 18 year olds who are misusing alcohol or drugs.
"People often don’t see themselves as a 'carer', but just as being a parent or grandparent," Carol said, "because they look after people in their own families, often caring for a son or daughter with addiction as well as providing a stable home for their grandchildren. Teenagers’ involvement with substances is often transient, but very worrying for parents, and if experiment does lead to addiction then the whole family are likely to need help."
The North Yorkshire Family and Carers Service began in 2009, in response to increasing evidence that this client group often have difficulty accessing services for a number of reasons. Social stigma, shame and sense of isolation are common feelings experienced by carers whose lives are affected by substance misuse. Sometimes this is compounded by fear of violence and reprisals from family members, and a lack of understanding and information about the drugs themselves and the effects they can have on users and their families.
Matt Dunkley, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, recently told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there were two areas where a better understanding of child development and the effects of neglect had led to an increase in the number of care cases. "One is the effect of domestic violence on children in the home and the emotional abuse that that represents, but also it is about understanding the effects of neglectful parenting due to drug and alcohol problems and the physical damage to development and brain development that it can do in very young children," he said.
Alison Perry, Senior Care Coordinator, said: "In times of family crisis, grandparents often step in to provide caring, rather than see their grandchildren taken away from the family. But carers live on a daily basis with significant psychological and financial stress and pressure. Our charitable service offers a range of specific support for people, which includes counselling, information and advice, as well as a range of therapies to help people to maintain their own health and wellbeing."
Funding changes have meant that for a year or so only a skeleton service has been maintained by North Yorks Family and Carers, but with new funding now in place they are able to re-launch, and offer support to new clients. There is also a freephone helpline number for people to call if they are in urgent need of support and advice.
Carol is able to meet people by appointment at the Thirsk centre, or travel to meet clients if they have transport restrictions. She offers a professional listening service, by telephone or in person, and advice and information, with access to other services based on individual need. In due course, she will also offer group meetings for peer support and information.
Carol can be contacted by phone - 01845 522 554 Freephone helpline 08007316338 or via the website - www.familyandcarers.org