Reflecting on the Connect, Communicate, Learn and Thrive Festival

neon coloured lanterns

Scottish Families held the Connect, Communicate, Learn and Thrive Festival this summer.

With Covid-19 impacting all of our lives this year, we have looked for new opportunities to connect with communities across Scotland. Throughout July, we offered 11 different online activities for families and friends affected by a loved one’s alcohol or drug use.  It was an ideal opportunity for our community to stay connected and meet people not currently known to us through our day-to-day work or services.

54% of people who completed our feedback survey had never participated in a Scottish Families activity prior to the festival.

We reached people from 27 of the 32 council areas of Scotland and also reached people in Northern Ireland, England and the USA.

We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who participated with 100% of people rating the sessions they attended as ’very good’ or ‘excellent’.

“Everything has been perfect. This may sound cheesy but I didn’t really know what to expect and the whole experience has surpassed my expectations. It has ticked all the boxes of your summer festival. I have connected with others in such a short space of time on a level that I would never imagined possible. I have learned to communicate in a way I never thought I was capable.” – Festival attendee

“Encouraging and so good to be with other folk going through similar things. Really good ideas to help with stress, self-care, communication…” – Festival attendee

We asked participants what we could improve on for the future. Several people said that they wished our activities had continued for longer. This feedback has inspired us to keep developing our offer for online events and activities. Follow our social media channels for updates on our upcoming plans to launch more online events. Towards the end of the year, we are launching ‘Love Makes You Family’ Workshops and the second running of our Family Recovery College course ‘Understanding Substance Use and Holding on to Hope’!

We collected equalities monitoring information to see who our activities reached. It is important to us because it gives us an insight into how we can improve our ways of working to make sure everyone in Scotland feels welcome to participate in our community events and access our services.  We found that there were several groups under-represented at the festival.  We want to build opportunities to grow our connections within our communities work. We welcome anyone who wants to have their say about how we can improve to get in touch.

We hope to continue to grow our connections across the country. Get in touch with us if you have an idea of how we can link in with your community!

A short thank you note!

Connect, Communicate, Learn and Thrive was only possible because we worked closely with a range of partners to create something different and we want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped make the festival possible!

Thank you to the people who completed our initial survey telling us what they wanted to see from the festival. It is important to us that we offer what people need and want, and we’re grateful that many people got involved in this process.

Last but not least, we’d like to thank the Wellbeing Fund for funding the festival activities.

Introducing Audio Writing

black headphones lying in scattered colourful confetti

‘Audio Writing’ was a 6-week series of workshops exploring audio writing with Sarah Niven. The workshops brought people together to learn about the process and develop content to co-create a script/content and a finished audio story.

Audio writing is a great way to create immersive stories using your voice. Participants had a chance to explore a new way of expressing themselves. 

Interested in contacting Sarah or finding out more about her work? You can email her and check out her website.

What did the participants say?

“It reminds me that our stories may be different and unique, yet, there is a shared inner experience that we can connect to in sharing our emotions.” – Audio Writing participant

Final Audio Stories

Stress Less: Learning about Mental Health and Effective Coping Strategies

neon sign saying breathe sitting in grass

‘Stress Less’ was a two-part workshop which explored stress, wellbeing, and positive coping strategies. The workshop brought people together to learn and discuss ways to keep well. Rosemary Mullan, an experienced trainer and psychotherapist led the sessions.

The aim was to help participants understand common stress responses and how these can impact on wellbeing. Participants were supported to increase their understanding of positive and negative coping strategies and had access to a full range of supportive resources.

Rosemary can be contacted on

What did the participants say?

“I learnt the long term physical impact of stress on the body. Most information on stress concentrates in the immediate impacts.” – Stress Less Participant

“…it’s benefited me myself for making me feel calmer and more in control.” – Stress Less Participant

Bach Flower Remedies: A Short Course

open book about dr bach flower remedies

Bach Flower remedies are a set of flower remedies developed by Dr Bach as a tool that people can use to help them understand and work through different emotions or experiences.

In this interactive online short course, Jo from Green Tree Remedies taught participants about how these remedies work and how they can use them in their daily lives. At the end of the fourth session, participants were offered an individual consultation each and received their unique bottle of oils delivered safely by post. 

What did the participants say?

Was really clear and informative but kept very informal and we were all made to feel at ease” – Bach Flower workshop participant

“I learnt so much in the Bach Flowers (as well as the Stress and Communication) that I have been practicing in my every day life.” – Bach Flower workshop participant

Make Do Grow Presents: ‘The Kid’s Tent’ Create Sessions

paints and paint brushes on a block of wood

Summer festivals aren’t complete without ‘The Kid’s Tent’ so we partnered with Kaytie at Make Do Grow CIC to bring four arts, crafts and game sessions for the whole family.

Participants received a free craft pack in the post with everything they needed to take part. All of the sessions also encouraged re-use of scrap and recyclable materials like toilet roll holders, old t-shirts, plastic bottles, and glass jars. Sessions were hosted via Facebook Live and included themes such as Superheroes, Under the Sea, Sonic versus Mario, and our Family Special session.

What did the participants say?

“That was fab, we now have lanterns and badges, and a very sticky table ???? lots of fun, can’t wait till Saturday, thank you!” – Kids Tent Create Session Participant

“Enjoyed time together as a family” –  Kids Tent Create Session Participant

Facebook Live Recordings:
Under the Sea – Thursday 16th July
Sonic versus Mario – Saturday 18th July
Family Special – Thursday 23rd July
Superheroes – Saturday 25th July

#VoicesTogether Virtual Choir

a whole group of people singing

After a successful launch of our Voices Together virtual choir in May 2020, we returned with a bigger and better plan for round two. We brought a new song to sing from the rooftops – You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King. A timely reminder of the importance of our friends and supporters in difficult times.

Singing as a part of a group is proven to bring physical and mental health benefits, reducing stress, increasing a sense of belonging and togetherness, and even regulating heart rate! Following feedback from our first session, we offered three group singing sessions before recording the video, giving participants the chance to get to know each other and work more with our fabulous choir leader Emilie Boyd.

We had 22 singers in the final recording from all over Scotland. Singers were people in recovery, people who work in services, and families and friends. 

Watch our choir here. 

What did the participants say?

“I found being part of the voices together choir an amazing and uplifting experience. I felt at a time of uncertainty, this really mentally lifted my spirits and gave me a purpose and connection.” – Voices Together Participant

”A fab opportunity to take part in a virtual choir that brings light into the darkness of the current world situation and be able to put a smile on other’s faces who viewed the song.” – Voices Together Participant

”Knowing that you are not alone and spreading that news to others through the song.” – Voices Together Participant

Exploring Stigma and the Power of Kindness

white billboard with community is kindness in red

Scottish Families delivered these workshops and explored stigma for people who use substances, families and whole communities. We also discussed the power of kindness and what we can all do to help reduce the impact of stigma in our society.

What did the participants say?

“It helped me look at the bigger picture of stigma and kindness and growth in communities in lockdown of support and care for one another.” – Stigma and Kindness Workshop Participant

“Stigma and kindness the labels attached to folk even their children, developing a kindness muscle the feel good factor of helping others , developing a more compassionate community”- Stigma and Kindness Workshop Participant

Would you like to host one of these workshops in your community?  Get in touch with us to discuss at

Love Makes You Family: Special Screening of our New Animation

a heart drawn in white chalk on a bench

We hosted a special screening of our brand-new animation, ‘Love Makes You Family’. This online event was an opportunity to have a first look at our new animation and participate in a relaxed and reflective discussion about what family means to ourselves and our communities.

Together we considered how we could celebrate families from all walks of life, structures and backgrounds to build more inclusive communities. We reflected on how our own life experiences and culture can bias how we understand ‘family’ and considered how we could move beyond this to a broader perspective and deeper appreciation for the many forms that family can take.

What did the participants say?

“Discussing the diversity of what family actually means and how this looks.” – Love Makes You Family Participant

“It makes me appreciate my family more.” – Love Makes You Family Participant

We will be hosting more discussion events and launching the Love Makes You Family animation publicly very soon so watch this space! Want to find out more? Email us at

Introducing Podcasts: Everything You Need to Know About Podcasting

audio recording equipment

This podcast workshop was facilitated by Maggie from Families in Trauma who took participants through the process of producing their own podcast series! The workshop explored where to start and how to make an impact when using content. 

What did the facilitator say?

“From the feedback we received, each participant felt we had achieved the aims we started out with.  At the last workshop all felt they had ideas and were keen to get started with creating their first podcast.” – Maggie, Families in Trauma.

Communication Workshop

a green speech bubble made out of yellow paper

This three-part workshop series led by Scottish Families explored how we can improve our communication with our loved one. Drawing on Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) in these workshops we reflected on our communication and explored different tools we can use and realised that:

  • We are not alone in finding communication tricky at times
  • We each have experiences that we can learn from
  • Things can and do improve when we take the time to stop and reflect

What did the participants say?

“I found the 7 elements of positive communication really useful for writing a letter to my family member. Indeed the suggestion to write a letter confirmed a feeling I’d had that that might be a good idea.” – Communications Workshop Participant

“I definitely am learning to communicate better with my partner” – Communications Workshop Participant

“I learned a lot from the content and I met some like-minded individuals” – Communications Workshop Participant

JustB Presents ‘The Kid’s Tent’ Story Sessions

storybook lying open on a quilt covered in lights

‘The Kid’s Tent’ story sessions involved listening to a story with Claire from JustB and joining in with some activities to help us feel calm and relaxed.

These sessions were run by JustB, a business based in the Glasgow area that offers mental and emotional health and wellbeing services for children and adults. Those who signed up received storybooks in the posts so that they could follow along and keep reading at home.

What did the participants say?

“Just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for your fantastic story-time and the activities you do during this time I’m loving it. I absolutely love the books you very kindly sent me to use with my children “ – Kids Tent Story Session Participant

“As a family, we connected and shared ideas. It was a lovely bonding” Kids Tent Story Session Participant

Thanks again to all who were involved in the festival!  We want to continue to grow our connections across the country. Get in touch with us if you have an idea of how we can link in with your community!

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