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Live from Brighton - Jon Ashworth on addiction service pledges

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Labour Shadow Secretary Health Secretary Jon Ashworth opened his heart up about his alcoholic dad - and then pledged to set up the first ever national strategy to support kids of addicts as well as investing in treatment and prevention.

This year £43 million has been slashed from alcohol and drug treatment services despite growing problems in towns, cities and even villages across the country including Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding area.

Ashworth, in a  moving speech to Conference, said: "Recently I chose to speak out very personally about my own circumstances, growing up with a dad who had a drink problem. He was an alcoholic.

"His drinking hung over my childhood with the fridge empty other than bottles of drink. His drinking became so bad in his final years that he couldn't bring himself to come to my wedding because he felt too embarrassed.

"I tell this story not for your indulgence or sympathy. But because two million children row up with an alcoholic parent, 335,000 children grow up with a parent with drug abuse issues.

"So as part of our assault on child ill health I will put in place the first ever national strategy to support children of alcoholics and drug users and we'll invest in addiction treatment and prevention as well."

Ashworth, an only child brought up by mum Maria in Manchester, would stay with his dad at weekends. His dad eventually drank himself to death after moving to Thailand.

He also spoke at a fringe event in Brighton where he added: "It wasn't unusual at the age of nine or 10 to be picked up from school by my dad drunk. It's seven years ago since he died.

"I got  a phone call from Thailand and didn't answer. I thought it's dad, he's probably drunk again. I got the message 'ring back it's bad news' and I knew immediately he was dead. He was 61"

Drug and alcohol services for children are being slashed by 70 councils by total of £8.3 million and English councils will cut drug treatment and prevention budgets by £24.8 million this year with alcohol treatment and budgets making up the rest of the cuts.

 

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