On 23rd February I had the great pleasure of attending the launch of the Twinkle Twinkle Arti book, written by Danielle Slade.

The book, illustrated by Josie Brookes, is the result of research conducted by Dr Ruth McGovern and Debbie Smart at Newcastle University as part of the Safe Space Project, funded by the Medical Research Council and the SPRing study, by Dr Cassey Muir led by Fuse (http://www.fuse.ac.uk/). The development of the book which brings together the findings from these two studies, is funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (https://sphr.nihr.ac.uk/).

The research studies examined the support needs of non-substance using parents or caregivers in substance exposed families and the needs of children whose parents/caregivers use alcohol or drugs.

Children and young people whose parents use substances often feel alone in their experience, with very few people to trust or talk to. Children and young people told the researchers that a storybook would help others in their situation to understand they are not alone and that they should talk to somebody about how they feel.

Parents or caregivers said that they did not plan how or when to have a conversation with children in the family, and when asked questions by children gave answers that they thought best.

Twinkle Twinkle Arti is a book for all children and aims to help facilitate conversations between trusted adults and children who experience parental alcohol or drug use.

The story opens conversations and helps to reduce anxiety and fears is set in a little galaxy not too far away.

In this small galaxy live thousands of young wishing stars getting ready to grant their first wish, when they have done this they will get something important…. their TWINKLE!

But one wishing star, Arti, is finding things a bit hard. Life is bumpy and things just keep getting in the way – things like the Yozzle!

Arti is sad and frustrated; she doesn’t know how she will get her twinkle because she isn’t able to grant her first wish.

The book takes you on Arti’s journey of bravery, self-discovery and learning about the importance of talking about your feelings.

With introductions and thanks from Dr Ruth McGovern, the story was read by Danielle Slade to an audience, including the children and families who contributed to the studies and Arti’s story.

Twinkle Twinkle Arti will be given to schools, libraries and organisations working with children, young people and families. It can also be freely accessed on the NIHR SPHR website (https://sphr.nihr.ac.uk/resources/resources-for-schools/)

Helen Thompson