A TRAFFORD councillor has candidly shared her experiences of growing up with an alcoholic in the family.

Cllr Joanne Harding was invited to speak as an expert witness at a government Select Committee to contribute to the national 10-year drug strategy.

She represented the Local Government Association at the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday, May 25, and responded to questions about the ambitions of the strategy.

Cllr Harding said: “I know all too well the impact of drugs and alcohol on families. My dad was an alcoholic and tragically died at aged 55 as a result of his drinking. My background most definitely impacted on my career choices and for many years I worked with drug and alcohol users as a counsellor.”

The session was joined by other key experts with a focus on the Dame Carol Black report. The report discussed the need to ensure that vulnerable people battling with drug addiction get the support they need to turn their lives around.

Cllr Harding added: “Councils work incredibly creatively and collaboratively with the budget they have to support people living with addiction. However, funding for addiction services hasn’t kept up with demand.

“The public health grant which is used to fund drug treatment services has fallen in real terms from £4.2 billion in 2015/16 to £3.3 billion in 2022/23. Councils need long term and sustainable funding if they are to truly meet the aims of the drug strategy.”

The work of the committee is due to reach its conclusion in autumn this year and recommendations from all witnesses will be considered when forming the new government strategy.

Cllr Harding said: “This is a subject matter so close to my heart that I will always speak out on.

“As the child of an alcoholic I witnessed the devastation of addiction. Drug related deaths are at an all-time high and at least 27,000 children in England have been identified as a member of a county lines gang, with children aged 15-17 the most commonly identified as victims of county lines exploitation.

“We need significant investment in the services that prevent problems before they occur.”

Trafford has been allocated over £300,000 additional funding for this year, an unconfirmed amount next year and an uplift of funding in 2024/5 to support local people with the treatment and recovery of drug and alcohol addiction.

It is hoped this will help fund additional workers to support adults and young people. It is also expected to support harm reduction and overdose prevention, as well as increasing capacity across the criminal justice system.

Trafford Council is expected to use some of its funding to further develop its trauma-informed service with additional funding for inpatient detox, improved access to residential rehabilitation and its drug-related deaths surveillance system and panel.