We are delighted to celebrate COA Week with the launch of our updated logo and new website for everyone affected by a parent’s drinking. Our fresh branding gives Nacoa a friendly face to continue reaching out to everyone who needs us. We hope our new look will appeal to more children, young people, adults, concerned others and professionals.
Modular Digital have kindly offered their services pro bono. Without this extraordinary gift, and the help of so many dedicated volunteers and generous supporters, we would simply not exist. Together we can give children affected by parental alcohol problems the chance of a brighter future.
Nacoa has grown from the hopes and dreams of five people who wanted children struggling with parental alcohol problems to have the help and support that they did not have.
When alcoholism is the family secret, children battle with the fear of being disloyal to their parents and try to hide problems from the outside world. This can leave children feeling isolated and alone. It is perhaps the secretiveness that grows with addiction that causes most harm.
Although the effects of alcohol problems on the rest of the family are more talked about now in the drug and alcohol fields, there is still a long way to go in unshrouding the taboo topic of parental alcoholism.
Despite the prevalence of drink problems, there is still too much stigma and too little understanding. It is estimated that 1 in 5 children live with a parent who drinks hazardously. Demonising people with drink problems will prevent them and their children from speaking up and asking for help.
However we are heading in the right direction and hopefully Nacoa’s new website will spread the word that it is OK to talk about alcohol problems. Only a few months ago, the Children’s Commissioner released a report entitled “Silent Voices”, highlighting the need for services like Nacoa to support children affected by parental alcohol misuse.
“The problem affects large numbers of children who never come to the notice of children’s social care. They should not need to do so if there are services prepared to support them and their families at an earlier stage.” Dr. Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England
Many alcohol services offer family programmes, but there are few services for the vastly greater number of children whose parents do not seek help or even acknowledge the problem. These children find themselves with no one to turn to.
Helplines allow children free access to help and support whilst respecting their need for privacy and control. They can talk about whatever is troubling them that day, at that moment. They are heard and believed.
The ordinary constrictions of prejudice and judgement – what you wear, how you look, what trainers you have – do not exist. They can remain unseen and in as safe a place as possible, while they begin to find the words to talk about themselves, their lives and their feelings. Sometimes they call at the point of crisis and we remain with them on the phone; a kindly voice in what might seem a hostile world.
We understand what it can be like when a parent has a drink problem. We won’t judge and we are here to help for as long as people want.
The Nacoa helpline has been developed by listening and taking account of what children and young people tell us they want and need. They are the true architects of our services and ambassadors to other children, that there is help, there is hope and there is a different way to survive.
So for us to survive in the digital age and respond to today’s need with many young people living their lives online and through their smart phones, an online presence is vital. The world is a different place to when we started in 1990, a time when children called us from phone boxes! People seem to be under more time pressures and need everything to be available instantly and always accessible.
The internet has revolutionised the way we look for information. It is no longer difficult to obtain, instead we are bombarded from all sides with information from many sources of varying quality. Geography is no longer a barrier and we can now pose questions to the world that we would have previously been too embarrassed to ask. This highlights the need for a safe and reliable place to gather information and advice about alcohol problems.
Our website is very much a part of our helpline service: a way to reach out to let people know they are not alone; a safe place to learn about alcohol problems, explore their feelings and take some time out. Our new website highlights why we are here and how the helpline works which we hope will give people the confidence to get in touch.
We are a small charity reliant entirely on voluntary donations and the passion and commitment of many wonderful volunteers. To continue providing a lifeline to children, it is essential that our website also encourages and gives our supporters the tools they need to get involved: by becoming a member or making a donation, helping us raise money and awareness and volunteering.
In readiness for our sparkling new website, our image has been given a makeover. Our logo has been given a modern twist whilst retaining the Nacoa sun: a visual representation to show that there is hope and things can get better. The chance to consciously look at our brand has been brilliant; helping us communicate better with our diverse audiences and ensure continuity across our various channels of communication including social media. We hope people will find our new look approachable, feel supported and know there is help and there is hope.
This amazing gift provides us with a platform to grow and expand Nacoa’s services to include online chat with our volunteer helpline counselors in the near future.
23 years on, the need for Nacoa is greater than ever and our helpline remains at the heart of our work. As a small charity with just three full-time staff, finding time and energy for extra projects can sometimes be a struggle, particularly over the busy Christmas period. However, the Modular Digital team has gently guided us through the website process, respecting the need for the helpline to take priority. Thank you to them for their inspiration, patience and encouragement along the journey. We are so grateful for all their hard work.
Thank you also to our former volunteer webmasters whose efforts and commitment brought Nacoa online and available to over 850,000 visits. We look forward with excitement to the future and to providing help and support for many more thousands of people affected by their parent’s drinking. With the help of our new website we will start to dismantle the stigma that surrounds addiction, allowing many more people to find a voice and ask for help.
Hilary Henriques MBE
Chief Executive and Co-founder of Nacoa