'Growing up with a dad addicted to heroin'

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"He'd take me to his friend's house and I'd see them in the kitchen rolling up tin foil and smoking out of it."

Kimberley is remembering life with her dad, who was addicted to heroin.

"He used to buy me sweets to keep me quiet. He didn't know I knew what was happening."

The 15-year-old can't use her real name to talk to us because she's grown up in a vulnerable situation.

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Image caption Government research shows more than two million young people in England are growing up in families with serious risks. Picture posed by model

From the age of eight she was cooking dinner for herself, ironing her own school uniform, and having to look after her dad who'd pass out on the sofa after smoking drugs.

Research from the Children's Commissioner has revealed that 2.1 million children in England are living in such families.

Anne Longfield's report highlights dangers like domestic violence and living with parents who are alcoholics or have problems with drugs.

"He was up and down all the time. Sometimes he'd be happy and the next minute he'd be very angry at me," explains Kimberley, from Blackpool.

"He'd shout at me, I'd retaliate and sometimes I'd get so angry I'd end up packing a bag and leaving it under my bed in case things got worse. That was when I was 10.

"At the time I didn't realise it was unusual to have to look after myself, or have to wake him up if he'd passed out. But eventually I got scared he would never wake up."

Image copyright AJ Wilhelm

Gradually, she sought out help.

"I was in my last year of junior school when I decided that my life wasn't as good as it should have been and I didn't want to live with my dad anymore.

"I did try and help him. Loads of people did."

She turned to her landlady, Shaz, for help.

"I used to stay over at her house, and it was nice because I felt safe enough to talk to her about what was going on.

"At first I was scared about what to say, because I didn't want to admit that my dad was on drugs, so I said stuff like 'my dad's been acting weird'.

"Because she lived next door she saw how my dad was behaving, and she helped me through it."

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Image caption Picture posed by model

Today's report suggests that many children in similar situations aren't able to find help and funding for services to help vulnerable young people at an early stage has been cut by 60% since 2010.

Over time, Kimberley also sought out help from a social worker at school, and the NSPCC.

She now lives with Shaz who she calls her "step-mum", and no longer sees her dad.

"I did have one day out with him after I left home, but before long he started shouting at me and stormed off. I haven't spoken to him since. That was a few years ago.

"I don't really miss seeing him, because I've realised my life is better now."

For help on coping with drug abuse and family problems, visit the BBC Advice pages, ring the Childline helpline for free on 0800 1111 or get in touch via the Childline website.

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