“It has been an incredibly difficult year. We were only able to keep the doors open for families with the support of the local community.
ackie McKenna, who co-founded the Dundalk-based Family Addiction Support Network (FASN), spoke to The Argus this week about the funding challenges the network faces as it faces a growing demand for support from families of loved ones struggling with drug addiction.
The group went public earlier this year with the financial difficulties they face and the “overall lack of core funding,” says Jackie, which has created so much uncertainty about their ability to plan for the future of the service.
“We had to launch the fundraising campaign just to keep the doors really open, and luckily the incredible support from the local communities we work in has kept us open to the families who need us this Christmas.”
But the “cap” provided by fundraising still provides the service with little security for another year, adds Jackie.
“The reality is that we will be back to square one soon, as there is no core funding to keep us on a stable year-over-year basis.”
The “tight budget” of € 7,500 for the year had disappeared long before June, leaving the remaining six months of 2021 “among the most difficult we have ever encountered,” she adds.
Reports on funding made available for drug support services following the Guerin report provided “only half the picture,” says Jackie.
“The HSE nationally advertised two Family Support Coordinator and Family Support Worker positions. But they are open to all groups to apply. We have to do a tender for them, so we sent out this tender for an established project, and all we can do now is wait.
“But it’s really only because of the generosity of the local community that we end the year by keeping our doors open for family members.”
FASN is a non-profit organization that provides support and education to families living with the effects of a loved one’s addiction. Established in 2002, FASN is based in Dundalk and operates in four counties in the northeast. Their work is peer-led and for the past 20 years has been carried out on a completely voluntary basis, with no paid staff.
Such has been the impact of their life support work over the past decades, they have received strong support from both the church and An Garda Siochana, and just last week a national light shone on their work after being invited to join a panel. in the show The Claire Byrne Live on RTE.
The founders of FASN represented family members in the heated debate focused on the increase in recreational cocaine use in Ireland and its effects not only on the user himself but also on his family and society at large.
They spoke of elderly parents forced to hand over their savings and of farmers losing land due to the devastating impact of a child’s addiction.
“Community and volunteer projects across Ireland, not just ours, have worked for many years to support families like this. Government and statutory bodies must join us in providing adequate support. “
“FASN calls on the government to be aware of the national drug strategy and to provide adequate funding for community drug projects to tackle what is happening in every town and village in Ireland. “