2019 was an incredibly productive year for the Family Addiction Support Network with the expansion of services and working to establish the appropriate governance to underpin and consolidate the work undertaken with service users and therefore ensuring that current best practice guidelines in this area were being adhered to. The Project Co-ordinator and Lead Family Specialist created an ambitious work-plan to guide the development and delivery of the services throughout 2019. It was only through them stepping up to work 3 or 4 days per week on a voluntary capacity that created the potential to deliver on this work plan which consolidated the existing service provision and facilitated its expansion.
The capacity on the Board of Management was greatly increased with new Board members from diverse backgrounds committing their time and energy to support the ongoing building of Governance in compliance with the Governance Code for the Community and Voluntary Sector. While currently a Registered Charity, FASN Board of Management and Trustees worked towards creating a new legal entity of Company Limited by Guarantee CLG. Another important development for the Organisation was when Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh, Father Michael Router agreed to become patron of FASN.
To support the delivery of the 2019 work plan, in January 2019 FASN commenced recruiting & training of new Peer Led Family Support Facilitators for Cavan/Monaghan area – funded through HSE CHO1 and in March FASN established a new Peer Led Family Support Group in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan. In July a new Volunteer trained in the 5 Step Program commenced delivering the 5 step support one day a week in Lois Dubh thereby increasing the capacity to deliver the program.
In November to ensure ongoing Continuous Personal Development for the volunteers, FASN hosted the delivery of both, Facilitation Skills QQI Level 6 and Conflict Management Training with QQI Level 6 accreditation to the facilitators as well as providing a health and wellbeing weekend event for the facilitators as a model of self-care while working in a stressful environment.
Families at the heart of what FASN delivers
Of equal importance, in September FASN facilitated a respite weekend in Donegal for the well being of family members and provided support for six family members to attend the National Family Support Network’s Annual Conference in November ensuring that wherever they are on their own recovery journey their input is considered a valuable contribution to the National Strategy.
Contributing to a Global response in April 2019 – FASN representatives Gwen and Jackie attended the 26th Harm Reduction International Conference in Porto, Portugal.
This conference was a unique opportunity to learn about the benefits and lessons learned from Portugal’s progressive approach to drug policy and harm reduction, which included the decriminalization of the possession and use of all drugs. Held once every two years in a different country around the world, the Harm Reduction International Conference is the only global meeting for knowledge-sharing, networking, and discussion of best practices in the field of harm reduction.
Raising Awareness and campaigning
In February FASN organized a Stop the Stigma Day and marked International Family Support Day inviting agencies and projects in the region to contribute. With increased awareness in the wake of the New Drug Strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, 2017-2025, FASN hopes that Addiction and all that it implies, stigma, shame and standards will be seen as a health issue and treat it as such. Otherwise, it is a Barrier to a health led approach.
FASN secured funding from the HSE to commission a researcher to undertake a substantive piece of research on families impacted by substance misuse in the North East Region (the first of its kind in the North East) and the first in Ireland since the development of the New Drug Strategy in 2017.
WE were delighted on the 14th May 2019 to launch the completed research report “Findings from a study on how families are affected by substance misuse in the North East of Ireland” by the then Minister for Drugs Catherine Bryne TD, in the Carnbeg Hotel with local Statutory, Community and Voluntary Service Providers as well as family members impacted by addiction in attendance. In June FASN delivered a presentation on the research findings to the UNESCO International Family Support Conference, Galway. This is one of the most significant achievements for a Volunteer organization with little or no core funding to realize.
There have been many highlights in 2019. In February, FASN engaged with the SPARK CHANGE CHALLENGE which is a collaborative project of The Wheel and Trinity College Dublin. The project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The Family Addiction Support Network signed up for this challenge in Feb 2019 under the following goal; Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
The goal of Spark Change is to improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of communities across Ireland, and to gather information on how community and voluntary activity is contributing to Ireland’s commitments to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
FASN won the SPARK Change Challenge National Award in the Includer Category for inclusion of members of the community who are isolated and socially excluded from having their say in policy making.
In September Deirdre Kenny, Fundraising Volunteer, Board member, Trustee, won a much deserved PPN Outstanding Individual Award. We are delighted that her deep commitment and tireless fundraising efforts have been acknowledged within the greater community.
I have listed only a few of 2019’s activities/achievements as there will be a full breakdown in the body of the Annual Report. But I would like to comment that this program of work/activity which evidences the commitment of FASN to ensure families can access services in their own right was delivered through securing small tranches of funding and fundraising monies which do not reflect the real cost of service provision. FASN have diligently developed and delivered targeted supports to family members, which must be underwritten with core funding to ensure the services continuance and expansion.
Moving into 2020 FASN must be funded appropriately as a matter of urgency.
It has been my privilege to be Chairperson throughout 2019 and I would like to thank all the Volunteers, Staff Team, Facilitators, Board Members, Trustees, Funding Organizations and Partner Organizations who have supported the work of FASN and to the Families who have come through the doors and shared their stories and who have been truly courageous and inspirational.
The Organisation is currently a registered unincorporated charity and has a management committee to oversee the day to day running of the project and develop the strategic direction of FASN. It is envisaged the charity will become a clg in 2020.
2019 BOM Members
Deidre Kenny – Trustee
Paddy O’Reilly – Trustee
Maura Callan – Trustee/ Treasurer
Marian Sloan – Chairperson
Mark Dearey – Vice Chair
Peter Lavery – Committee Member
Ronan Carey – Committee Member
Bernie Tighe – Committee Member
Mary McEntegart – Committee Member
Jackie McKenna – Project Coordinator
Gwen McKenna – FS Specialist