FASN Political Campaign - Communities Doing It For Themselves!
FASN Calling for Political Support
Due to the increase of consumption of alcohol and other drugs in our communities and the appalling lack of resources for families impacted by substance misuse, the Family Addiction Support Network invited TDs across the North East Region to Communities Doing It For Themselves! at their premises at Lios Dubh, Armagh Rd. Dundalk, Co Louth on 30th September 2019.
Marian Sloan, Chairperson outlined the work of the Family Addiction Support Network (FASN) and how funding was now urgently needed to ensure its continuation and growth.
The Family Addiction Support Network (FASN) is a dedicated support service for Family Members/Concerned Persons who are impacted by a loved one’s substance misuse.
Reason for formation
FASN is a voluntary organisation covering the four counties of Cavan, Monaghan, Meath and Louth. It grew organically from the needs of family members who were impacted by a loved one’s addiction behaviour.
In the North East of Ireland, families with a loved one addicted to drugs/alcohol did not have resources available to help them understand the impact of addiction or to help them improve their current living situation and coping skills. Family Members are involved at the core of development, management and servicing of the project.
FASN is based on the principles of partnership and community development & the Inclusion, Participation and Empowerment of families impacted by a loved one’s substance misuse. It supports the Goals of the National Drugs Strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery 2017-2025 and implements Goal 3 of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
We are dedicated to developing, supporting and reinforcing the work of peer family support groups and believe in setting quality standards to ensure families have the very best support they can get.
By operating from strong community development principles we actively promote the inclusion, participation and empowerment of our members.
We represent the collective voice of families to raise awareness of associated problems of substance misuse and work for positive change in policy and practice for family members affected by addictive behaviour.
Our goal is to assist families in the North East achieve a greater understanding of addiction, help them improve their quality of life and help them fulfil a positive role in the recovery of their loved one, should they choose to take it.
We do this through the delivery of FASN continuum of care model;
FASN launched a research document in May 2019, outlining the needs of families affected by a loved one’s addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It is the first research on Families impacted by substance misuse in the North East Region and the first in Ireland since the development of the New Drug Strategy in 2017.
According to “Findings from a study on how families are affected by substance misuse in the NE region of Ireland” commissioned by Family Addiction Support Network, “Families affected by substance misuse can experience a wide range of harms:
- worry and psychological stress leading to physical and mental ill health;
- exposure to threats and violence associated with drug debts and involvement of the drug using family member in the illicit market;
- the financial burden of directly or indirectly supporting a drug user;
- the impact on employment of stress or caring responsibilities;
- strain on family relationships;
- harm from domestic violence; and
- isolation and loss of social life.
FASN truly believes that by supporting families to have their needs met, families are then in a position to change the outcomes for themselves. To do this we create an environment where people can learn for themselves and are supported in the choices they make, we then respond to families needs by developing services.
To date FASN provides the following services,
- 24/7 Out of Hours Telephone Helpline
- 1-1 Support
- Peer Group Support
- Access to Counselling
- Access to Respite
- Educational Programme
- Drugs Intimidation Reporting Programme
The network at present has one voluntary part-time Project Coordinator, one voluntary part –time Family Support Specialist and one part time administrator C.E. Scheme, based in the The Hub, Lios Dubh, Dundalk, Co. Louth. These members carry out the work outlined in the plan with the support of volunteers and management committee.
Volunteers are recruited through FASN Family Support Groups and through the inclusion of FASN Service Users in the development and management of the network.
Training programmes not only provide specialist training in relation to family support group work but also provide a means of ongoing support in the personal development and awareness of all volunteers.
The network has to date, thirteen voluntary Peer Led Family Support facilitators with accredited training in Conflict Management & Group Facilitation Skills at QQI Level 6 and 5 Step Method Brief Intervention accredited to AFINET UK.
FASN currently implements a volunteer policy and Garda Vetting for volunteers.
The Family Addiction Support Network have identified that there are currently no other Peer Led Family Support dedicated services in the North East Region. While there are Health Service Executive services and four community-led Drug Projects in the region; they are mainly for drug users and none of them currently offer a comprehensive range of services to family members affected by a loved one’s substance misuse.
The Family Addiction Support Network is the only organisation to offer a combination of services specifically for family members/concerned persons.
FASN is led and run by volunteers who have lived with addiction and trained as Peer Led Family Support Facilitators. These trained and competent Facilitators work with Peer Led Family Support Groups and are professionally supported in their work in line with Best Practice.
This is a win-win situation for both the volunteer and the family member. Through their own development the volunteer has progressed through the seven stages of self development and has gained enough expertise and experience to be in a position to give something back to their community or other family members in relation to drug use. This in turn builds social capital within communities in relation to volunteering and creating caring communities. We need to break down stigma and isolation to drug users and their families, to be able to feel compassion and love for another human being instead of judgment, abandonment and isolation.
This Peer Led Family Support model was developed by FASN to keep in line with Best Practice. It is unique to FASN and is not a welfare model but rather a model of empowerment for Life.
Our facilitators are the backbone of the organisation and are ‘experts by experience’ delivering support to communities on a weekly basis throughout the four counties on a voluntary basis.
This is a project that has grown organically from the needs of families within the region and to date is developed, managed and serviced by volunteers. This Project cannot be sustained on volunteerism and requires core funding for employment and operational costs to ensure sustainability. A successful application will ensure the needs of families are met, improved resilience and coping skills for families and increased social capital within communities. Another by-product of this project is the reduction in the stigma and isolation felt by alcohol and other drug users and their families within communities
Following the presentation, the TDs pledged their support to the work of the Family Addiction Support Network and create a groundswell of support for the project using social media. We are delighted to announce the receipt of our first pledge and look forward to creating our Pledge Wall where families and the general public can view the support from our public representatives on how they are being proactive and protecting the public from threats to health and well being.
Our goal is to assist families in the North East to achieve a greater understanding of addiction, empower them to improve their quality of life and fulfil a positive role in the recovery of their loved one, should they choose to take it
Following the launch of the Family Addiction Support Network’s political campaign ‘Communities Doing It for Themselves’ at our headquarters in Lios Dubh, Dundalk, Co. Louth 30th September 2019, we are inviting all TD’S to sign the Public Pledge confirming their support for the work of the Family Addiction Support Network.
The actions of an addicted individual affect not only themselves, but those closest to them – their family, friends, loved ones and the wider community. Addiction can take its toll on everyone and FASN are calling on all TD’s and community leaders to pledge their support to FASN – who are currently providing much needed services and resources on a volunteer basis.
FASN are seeking a public pledge from all TD’s across all the parties to support & champion FASN, a community provider of support services for family members – wives, husbands, children, parents, grandparents, friends – all who are deeply affected by their loved one’s addiction and in NEED OF HELP.
TD’s that have made the Public Pledge
Declan Breathnach is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who has been a Teachta Dála for the Louth constituency since the 2016 general election. A native of Knockbridge, Dundalk, he studied at the Christian Brothers School, Dundalk and has a Bachelor of Education from St Patrick’s College, Dublin. Declan Breathnach is from Knockbridge, Dundalk and is the father of two adult children, Cian and Meabh.