The project started as a Family Support Service 30 years ago within St Johns Hospital, Livingston, providing fortnightly group sessions to those in need of support as a result of a loved ones substance abuse. The group had been funded through other projects and charity reserves when other funding was unavailable due to its positive impact.
In 2018 WLDAS received funding from LEADER for a 2 year pilot to roll the project out (becoming 'Family Matters' in the process) across the West Lothian region, to assist those in outlying areas with poor transport links and other commitments which may prevent them from attending the St Johns group.
The pilot proved a success with 4 new areas developing groups with some becoming peer facilitated, the existing group increased its attendance numbers by 30%. In addition, the demand for 1-2-1 counselling sessions and support across the county was extremely high with many requiring this intervention before becoming part of the wider groups.
The group sessions provide a mixture of peer support (with many members having attended for several years), coping strategies and relaxation sessions. A chance to offload and share similar experiences can provide a welcome relief to attendees. Therapeutic sessions (Reiki, massage. guided meditation) are also provided to aid relaxation, stress relief and improve mental health.
Group members benefited from regular support, ‘sharing’ time, alternative therapies, and relevant education/training sessions such as, Naloxone training which is instrumental in reducing drug related deaths. The main themes fed back from our Family Matters group surveys highlight:
- Increased confidence and self esteem
- Better equipped to deal/support with their loved ones
- Increased personal self-respect and aspiration
- Decreased anxiety and low mood
Almost all of the group members reported that they felt less alone with their problems and the reduced isolation enabled them to shape a healthier more balanced lifestyle.
Our vision is to build on the work started in the pilot - continuing to provide 1-2-1 support to those who need it most, whilst continuing to support and grow the groups, training and aiding peer support and facilitation of these.
How money raised will be utilised:
The largest cost of providing the service is the project workers salary and travel expenses to venues and homes to provide sessions. Refreshments are provided at the groups (once back to physically sessions) and therapeutic sessions on a fortnightly/monthly basis depending on the group take a small portion of the overall project costs.