Speak up, speak out: giving our children the best possible start

Posted on 09/09/2014 by


Partnership approach to support children affected by substance misuse


Happy, healthy children from Cowgate Under 5’s Centre in Edinburgh today helped launch a campaign to raise awareness of the misery caused when adults misuse alcohol or drugs.

Speak Up Speak Out has been launched by the City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian and Police Scotland to offer help, support and advice to youngsters whose lives are being affected by addiction.

The latest strand of the awareness campaign was unveiled to coincide with national Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day.

Scottish Government figures for 2013 reveal that:

  • 22% of all concerns recorded at child protection case conferences were for parental alcohol misuse or drug misuse
  • 53% of all concerns recorded for children on the Child Protection Register were for parental alcohol misuse or drug misuse
  • 51% of children on the Child Protection Register had either one or both of the concerns for drug or alcohol misuse recorded.

Examples of people who have raised concerns about these issues include: “I’m worried about the family next door, the adults drink and take drugs and the kids seem to look after themselves,” and “my mum forgets about me when she drinks.”

As well as offering support to children who have problems at home, Speak Up Speak Out is aimed at pregnant women, advising them to avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Parents and carers can also get advice about talking to children, while teenagers who are either worried about being pressured to take drugs, or are worried about friends, can also seek help.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Children and Families Convener, said: “The children we see here in this nursery today are happy and healthy, but others don’t enjoy as good a start in their lives.

“The aim of this campaign is to reduce the impact of alcohol and drug use on youngsters, see fewer young people using drugs, and also choosing to start drinking alcohol later in life. We also want to make sure that those in need, whether they are the adult or the child, get appropriate support for their problems.

We will continue to work closely with NHS Lothian and Police Scotland on Speak Up Speak Out to ensure that children have the best start in life and are protected from harm.”

Sarah Ballard-Smith, Nurse Director, NHS Lothian, said: “We need to ensure that all children whose families are affected by alcohol and substance misuse are protected and are given the support and help they need.

“We provide a range of services to make sure that children get the best possible start in life and that adults are able to access the support and help they require.

“This campaign is vitally important for the next generation and aims to raise awareness and the importance of seeking help. By speaking up and speaking out, it will help ensure thatunborn babies, children and young people are kept safe and healthy.”

Police Scotland Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said: “Drugs and alcohol are, sadly, a blight on many families and communities, and by working together through ‘Speak Up Speak Out’ we can identify those children and young people who are affected and offer them targeted help and support.

“Police Scotland recently began a campaign to tackle New Psychoactive Substances, sometimes known as Legal Highs, which will see local community officers visiting schools, youth groups and community events to help raise awareness and educate young people on their dangers, alongside enforcement action with partners at premises found to be selling these unregulated and potentially lethal substances.”

Speak Up Speak Out was launched last August by the Council, NHS Lothian and Police Scotland to encourage those who are affected by abuse to come forward and find out about the wide range of support that is available to them. Today’s launch was the fifth so far in a series of topics.

One of the key messages is that anyone can suffer from abuse, regardless of their age, gender or the colour of their skin. It can happen anywhere and be caused by friends, relatives, colleagues or strangers. By encouraging people to be open about their concerns and talk to care professionals, it is hoped that more adults and children can be protected from harm.

Contact details:

  • Police Scotland 101 (or in an emergency call 999)
  • ChildLine 0800 1111
  • NHS Inform 0800 22 44 88 (for health information)
  • Social Care Direct – The City of Edinburgh Council’s social work service: 0131 200 2324, email socialcaredirect@edinburgh.gov.uk