“Not damaged but determined.” Ashworth on his father’s alcoholism and tackling excessive drinking

30th December, 2016 11:03 am

jonathan-ashworth

The shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has spoken about his father’s alcoholism in an interview with the Guardian and called for more to be done to tackle excessive drinking.

“I remember him falling over when he picked me up at the school gates and we’d get home and there would be nothing in the fridge other than bottles of wine – he drank cheap horrible bottles of white wine … and cans of lager and Stone’s bitter,” he said in the article.

“When I got to 11 or 12 then I was effectively looking after him on the weekends because he was drunk all weekend.”

Ashworth described how he tried to dissuade his father, also called Jon, from moving to Thailand. “I never saw him again,” he said. “He was in Thailand for that last year drinking a bottle of whisky a day … I had to clear it up. That was my life. He was 60.”

Ashworth said that his experience had left him “not damaged but determined” and committed to making the needs of families affected by alcoholism a priority for Labour in 2017.

He wants more specialized training for professionals to support childen and more funding for councils to do more for families affected by alcoholism in schools and Sure Start centres.

Ashworth said he was inspired by the example of Liam Byrne, who spoke about his own father’s alcoholism last year and has supported the work of the National Association of Children of Alcoholics.

He also called for a cultural change in attitudes to alcoholism, recalling people thinking it was “a right laugh” that his father was a heavy drinker.

He remembered his father in goal at a work football match and people shouting: “Oh Jon Ash is in goal – just throw a crate of Stella in that direction and he’ll go after that.”

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