films that make a difference
It is estimated that around 350,000 children in the UK have parents with a serious drug problem – with 10 babies being born to heroin-addicted mothers every day. Yet in contrast to the billions of pounds spent on helping the users themselves, there is a serious lack of specialist help for their children - many of whom are at serious risk.
In this Dispatches film, award-winning filmmakers Brian Woods and Kate Blewett (China’s Stolen Children, The Dying Rooms) reveal the devastating impact that illegal drugs have on these neglected children, whose childhoods are blighted by chaos and danger - and the effect on their grandparents who are left to pick up the pieces and become their full-time carers.
The film hears directly from some of the children affected such as Kyle, aged 11 who recalls being locked in his bedroom by his mother and describes, matter-of-factly how his father was found dead in their living room, “My Dad died of a needle, cos he put a needle in his arm and took drugs”. Now being cared for by his grandmother, he and his brother are terrified they may one day have to return to their mother.
The film follows the progress of 21 year-old April who at eight-months pregnant and recently released from prison is on methadone to help her cope with the side-effects of withdrawal from heroin. She is determined to do the best for her baby, Carmella, and has been reunited with her mother after many years of separation but is struggling to adjust to her new life. “I’m not used to living this life, I’m used to working streets and robbing people every day and people looking down at me.” April struggles with the involvement of Social Services and learns to care for Carmella as she detoxes in the first few days of her life.
Kim is a heroin addict and mother of nine-year-old Serena. She has been using for the last five years and Serena has suffered a chaotic lifestyle whilst living with her mother. Kim openly admits she could not care for her properly and that she put drugs before her daughter. “When I used to have her living with me I’d give her a tenner at the weekend and then she knew that ten pound had to get her through the week. She used to say ‘Mum, I’m going to make sure I spend all of it, cos then if you’re skint you can’t ask me for a couple of pound if you need it.” Despite promises to get clean, the filmmakers follow Kim as she tracks down the postman to collect a loan she had secured to buy clothes and shoes for her daughter but which she immediately spends on heroin and crack cocaine. And as she fails to get herself into rehab, her situation becomes only more dire.
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