The story of the South East Family Support Network evolved from family members responding to the crises of problem substance use in their home and community. The network was established thanks to those family members who wished to reach out and support other family members in similar situations and to the vision and support of individuals in community based drug initiatives.
The overall aim of the network at that time was to help improve the situation for families coping with substance use by developing, supporting and reinforcing the work of peer family support groups and working for positive change in policy and practice.
The development of the network was a gradual process with family members determined to reach out to other families confronted with and affected by the stigma and stress associated with the problem. They wanted to highlight the problems both for families and the substance user relating to lack of treatment services and sought recognition as to the extent of the problem in rural and urban areas outside of Dublin. As an informal network in 2004 the SERFSN made a very valuable and practical contribution by researching and producing a good practice booklet for organising and running Family Support Groups.
In the following years the network grew in capacity and strength and in 2008 developed a more formal organisational and management structure. The voluntary management committee then applied and was approved funding by the South East Regional Drug Task Force for start up cost and employment of a development worker. During this period the Waterford & South Tipperary Community Youth Service provided administrative and managerial support. By 2010 the network was ready to take the courageous step as an independent organisation with charitable status. The SER Family Support Network continued to develop by adhering to community development principles and approach with the involvement of family members in all aspects of the organisation.
The SER Family Support Network is now an independent peer led organization is managed by a voluntary management committee. As a company limited by guarantee and with charitable status, the management committee and staff have the overall responsibility for accounting, reporting and planning all the actions and programmes. The process of development over the ten-year period has been guided by community development principles, with the main aim of ensuring the continuation of the capacity of the organization to representative the voice, needs and challenges for families.
The development of the organization has required capacity, confidence building and training to ensure the highest professional standards in all aspects of work. Establishing and maintaining effective working partnerships with key organization has been central to this continuation of development.
Breda Fell, Coordinator (part-time)
Catherine Foran, Development worker (part-time)
Board of Directors