John's story How our Family Environment: Drug-using Parents (FEDUP) service helped John find hope

John"I knew from a young age that my life was different to other children. While friends’ families sat round the table and had dinner together, my dad was asleep on the sofa by 6pm. I used to think “Why’s he so tired? He’s done nothing all day.” I’d make noises to try and keep him awake. I knew something wasn’t right.

"The house was a state. There were broken windows and we had no wallpaper. We always had lots of people in the house too. They’d arrive at weird times like 2am or 6am and be really noisy. My dad had told me my mother was in prison for drugs and I slowly began to realise that he was a drug user too.

"Dad would give me a couple of pounds as pocket money or for food and then he’d ask for it back. He’d spend as much as £40 a day on heroin, but only £20 a fortnight on food"
John*

"I’d spend a lot of time in my room to get away from my dad and his friends taking drugs downstairs. He never came to tuck me in; instead he’d pass out on the sofa. I felt so lonely, and scared. I was only young, but I felt a huge sense of responsibility. Dad would give me a couple of pounds as pocket money or for food and then he’d ask for it back. He’d spend as much as £40 a day on heroin, but only £20 a fortnight on food.

"When I was about nine, a man overdosed in my house. I remember seeing him on the floor in our bathroom next to a needle, and lots of blood. I was scared and didn’t know what to do but my dad just told me to go to my room. Soon after that I was referred to the NSPCC’s FEDUP programme which does group work with children whose parents have drug or alcohol problems.

"I was a bit nervous the first time I went to the NSPCC’s FEDUP service. The nerves didn’t last long though – I loved it. We played games together with our NSPCC worker Sally*. The games helped her find out more about what we were going through. But they also helped me escape the doom and gloom at home. Over time, I was able to get things off my chest instead of bottling my feelings up. I learnt what experiences other people in the group had as well, so I didn’t feel so alone.

"The NSPCC gave me the consistency that was missing in my life. Going there made me want to help other people and now I’m going to university to do a social work degree"
John

"The NSPCC also taught me practical things in a fun way. I learnt what to do if there was a fire in the house. My dad had started a fire when he fell asleep on the sofa with a cigarette, so this session was really good. And we learnt first aid, like how to put our parents in the recovery position.

"Sally also encouraged us to find a trusted adult to go to when things got bad at home. For me that was my nana. I’d often stay at hers during the weekends to have a break from home. My dad wouldn’t do any washing, or buy me new clothes when I needed them so nana helped me with that. I knew I could talk to Sally about whatever was bothering me at home.

"The NSPCC gave me the consistency that was missing in my life. Going there made me want to help other people and now I’m going to university to do a social work degree. Before being helped by the FEDUP programme I wasn’t living properly, I was just going through the motions. But the NSPCC made me feel like there was a new world out there."


*DISCLAiMER

Names have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.

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Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP)

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