THE average monthly number of child welfare referrals in the region about parental alcohol or drug misuse made to the NSPCC helpline more than doubled since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figures released this week by the children's charity showed that calls made to the helpline to report concerns about parents misusing alcohol or drugs in the North-East and Cumbria rose from an average of 31 per month between January and March 2020 to 69 reports each month between April 2020 and January 2021.

In the past 10 months, there were a total of 687 referrals in the North-East and Cumbria.

The reports in the region are higher than the national average which saw a monthly average increase of 66 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

In the period before the first national lockdown, there was an average of 709 contacts a month from UK adults worried a child was being placed at risk by their parent or carer’s use of drink and/or drugs. In the ten months since then, this increased to an average of 1,178 contacts a month.

Kam Thandi, head of NSPCC Helpline, said: “Parental substance misuse can have a seriously detrimental impact on the whole family.

"The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have created a perfect storm for families affected by this problem.

“At the NSPCC helpline we’ve not only seen a rise in contacts and referrals but we’re also seeing families who weren’t previously known to children’s services requiring help and support for substance misuse.

“The pressures on families at the moment are unprecedented and it is no surprise that our helpline is hearing that parents and carers are struggling with substance misuse.

"To keep our children safe it’s vital that those who are relying on drugs and alcohol, to the extent that the care of their children is being compromised, must seek help.

“The Government must also invest more in local services. Our frontline practitioners have told us that many parents and carers are struggling to access specialist support services which will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

The NSPCC is calling on anyone who is concerned a child is at risk due to parental substance misuse to contact their helpline. Trained professionals can offer advice to make sure everyone in the family receives the support they need – both parents and children.

If anyone is concerned about their own drug or alcohol and that it is affecting their family, support can be accessed by contacting the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit to find your nearest online support group.