Mums Talk About Losing Sons To Drugs

Two mums whose sons died from taking drugs have given their backing to a Hampshire police campaign.

Elizabeth Burton-Phillips and Gail Pitts will be telling their stories at the Operation Fortress's partnership day in Southampton on Monday, December 10.

Elizabeth's son Nick died in 2004 after five years of being addicted to heroin. Gail's son, also called Nick, died in 2007 from his addiction to drugs.

For speaking on the day, the Operation Fortress team have donated £500 to the charity Elizabeth later set up and to which both women dedicate their time. DrugFAM provides support to the friends and families of people addicted to drugs.

The donation comes from funds reclaimed from criminals by police under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Elizabeth said: "This is a wonderful idea for sourcing a donation for us. It's a really positive thing to use this money to support
families whose lives have often been devastated by crime and drug use.

"Drug addiction is not just about the addict; it's also about the impact on the family and the community. People often forget that behind the user there is a very distressed family, often with no experience of class A drugs, or gangs and dealers, and it's important the police understand the family is extremely vulnerable if not more."

Elizabeth is author of the book 'Mum, can you  lend me twenty quid?' which tells the story of what drugs did to her family.
Through the charity, both women have worked with other police forces and the prison service to help break the cycle of addiction.

Operation Fortress lead Detective Superintendent Kath Barnes said: "Elizabeth has been very supportive of the campaign and I'm very pleased both she and Gail are able to speak to our partners.

"Operation Fortress was set up to tackle drug-related violence around Southampton as part of which we are working with partners to help reduce the demand for drugs in the long term.

"Elizabeth and Gail's stories are very powerful and I hope they will help people realise the overwhelming and destructive effect
drugs can have on whole families and that equally help is available through support services such as DrugFAM."

If you're concerned about drug dealing or drug-related violence where you live, call the police on 101 or email

If a crime is in progress, always call 999.

If you're living in fear or debt because of drugs, you can speak to the Operation Fortress team in confidence by email or on 101.

If you're worried about your own drug use, The Bridge open access drug centre can be contacted on 02380 881400.

The Parent Support Link on 02380 39 9764 offers support and advice to people affected by someone else's drug use.