Thousands of children call helpline for bedtime stories

family law

Thousands of children across the UK called a charity helpline asking to hear a bedtime story last year because their parents were in no condition to do so.

Counsellors who operate the helpline for the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) have revealed that they keep storybooks by their phones because some children call so regularly. Disney stories, Roald Dahl books and the Horrid Henry series are among the most popular titles.

Last year, Nacoa received up to 32,000 phone calls and emails from children whose parents had serious alcohol problems. One of the children who called the helpline was a seven year-old girl who was hiding under her bed from her intoxicated parents on Christmas. She asked to be told a story about her imaginary friend, a dog called Bruce.

Chief Executive Hilary Henriques said that fictional stories were even more important for such children because they “[help] to get across the message that things can be different from the life they live at the moment”.

The report came just a few days after MPs and peers claimed there could be as many as 2.5 million children living with alcoholic parents in the UK. Youngsters who grow up in that environment are more likely to develop alcohol problems of their own later in life, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Children of Alcoholics.

On Sunday, Labour MP Caroline Flint spoke to LBC presenter Stig Abell about the issue. Flint explained that she had grown up with an alcoholic mother and had not felt she could speak about it publicly for a long time.

Having a parent with alcohol issues is not something children can share with their friends, she said. As a result, they “get very clever at covering up for what’s going on”. Children in this situation have been “overlooked for far too long” which is why she was a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group and supported the work of Nacoa.

Photo by Anastasia Alén via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

View more from this author

Leave a comment