South East Regional Family Support Network (SERFSN)

December 17, 2018

In your own words, tell us about your project.
The South East Regional Family Support Network (SERFSN) is a peer led organisation, committed to improving the situation of families affected by problem substance misuse of a family member.  We are dedicated to developing, supporting and reinforcing the work of peer family support groups.  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 in raising awareness of associated problems both for drug users and their families and work for positive change in policy and practice.

Why did you do this work?
Family members who were affected by substance misuse of a relative and in crises  were desperately seeking help and support. They came together and identified the need for information and support for themselves and  in getting treatment for their loved ones.  Family support groups then formed in Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford and the south East Regional Network was set up to help  improve the situation of families.  Our aim is that each family member can avail of a confidential, non-judgemental, safe environment where they can share their difficulties arising from the problematic drug and alcohol use of a relative amongst their peers.  We do this work in order to develop, support and reinforce the work of peer led family support groups that adhere to good practice.  The SERFSN also works for positive change in policy and practice by raising awareness of associated problems for drug users and their families.

What was the impact or outcome of your project?
Research  evidence supports the view that when families have relevant information and support it helps improve their well-being and resilience and empowers them to act as agents of recovery for their relative and whole family recovery.

Family members report that,

"the peer support group was a life saver for me and my family. It helped us through very difficult times, As a family we now support each other more and have been able to get on with our lives."

"I did't understand or believe I would ever get my life back after years of drugs use in my family, but now I feel I am on my own recovery journey."

The Network now supports fourteen peer family support groups in the south east with twenty trained voluntary facilitators and a voluntary management committee. The SERFSN has influenced the development of policy and  supports for family members at local, regional and national levels. The outcomes include the recognition  in the Dept. of Health, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery 2017-2025 of family members as service users in their own right  and the need to support their participation in the development of services.
Do you have any tips or advice for similar projects?

  1. Using the community development approach to ensure  those affected by the problem are in involved in all aspects of the developmental process.

  2. Specialist advice in relation to options  for organisational development and governance

Location of Project
Millennium Centre, Church Road, Lisduggan, Waterford City
Contact Person
Breda Fell
Email Address
Contact Number
Landline: 051 357767, Mobile: 086 6045805