"My life when I was younger wasn’t very happy. I knew from a young age that my dad was taking drugs because I’d learnt about them at school. I remember one day, when I was about 8 or 9 years old my dad’s mate came round and I saw the drugs laid out in the kitchen and I realised what they were and what they were doing.
"Living with dad wasn’t very nice. He used to get angry if he didn’t have any drugs and would shout at me. He would shout at me in the mornings because he’d overslept and we’d be late for school. I’d have to get my uniform washed and clean for school because if I left it for him to do, he’d put it in the washing machine and then forget to take it out so I wouldn’t have anything clean to wear. I was doing my own washing and ironing at primary school. Then I’d walk to school by myself. I often had to make my own dinner, because Dad would be asleep on the sofa or couldn’t do it. I’d have ravioli from a can.
"His mates would be at our flat all the time and they would make a noise at night when I was trying to sleep. If they came in the daytime they’d bring sweets for me to try and keep me out of the way. I’d be sent to my room or made to sit in the living room by myself. They used to be in the kitchen doing the drugs.
"When I lived with my dad I felt like nothing. I felt like he didn’t care about me all he cared about was the drugs."
"I had met Gemma* when I was 4 years old. She was our landlady and also worked in the shop next door. I started going into the shop to talk to Gemma instead of going home because I didn’t like to be at home with my dad.
"I would visit Gemma every day after school. I wouldn’t tell her too much about what was going on at home, but I’d tell her little things. If things were really bad with my dad I’d tell her about it and I’d sometimes stay overnight at her house. She always made time for me, it was normally when I was going to bed and she’d sit at the end of my bed and we’d talk through whatever I was worried about.
"I remember one night, my dad was asleep on the sofa and I couldn’t wake him up. The flat was dark and I was scared so I rang Gemma who came and picked me up and left a note for my dad to tell him where I’d gone.
"With Gemma’s support and help I told my school about what life was like living with my dad and I was given a social worker. The social worker helped a bit, but the biggest help was NSPCC. Anna* and Ray* from the NSPCC Blackpool Service Centre came to visit my house to speak to me and Dad and told me about a local group called Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP). They said that I could go and speak to other young people who were going through something similar to me and could have 1-2-1 chats with Anna at school. Ray said he’d come to my dad’s house and talk to him about how his drug use was affecting me.
"I enjoyed the FEDUP group. We did fun things like making towers out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti. I could talk to Anna about how I was feeling and I trusted her. I was in a session with Anna when I told her I didn’t want to go home and live with my dad anymore.
"After that day, I never went back to my dad’s flat again. I saw him once after I’d left him to go and live with Gemma. We went on a day out which was nice, but he got angry when I told him I couldn’t see him again a few days later because I was busy. He swore at me and stormed off. He still wasn’t nice to be around. Now that I’m at high school, I sometimes see him in the street. He tries to say hello but I don’t like it.
"I really like living with Gemma. I’ve been to Spain with Gemma and her family. I’ve lived with her for over 2 years now.
"I have a proper family who take me out and take me on holiday. "
"Being in the FEDUP group really helped me to speak out. They helped me to understand that if something doesn’t feel right then I should speak out and tell someone. To anyone living with a mum or dad who’s using drugs and making them unhappy, I’d say tell someone who you can trust and get help. It doesn’t have to be this way."