2,931 more people were supported by Scottish Families’ services in 2020/21 as well as those we are already supporting.
As the CEO of Scottish Families, you would expect me to have a pretty good handle on everything we are doing. But even I am left speechless (and that is unusual in itself) looking through the big, long list of everything #TeamSFAD delivered over 2020-21.
In any normal year, this would look like a busy programme of work, packed full of highlights (always hard to pick), and with lots of new developments. Reflecting that we have delivered all of this during a global pandemic, which has caused significant additional harm and distress to the families we support, is quite simply mind-blowing.
Of course, all CEOs like to shout about their charity’s achievements, and the incredible contribution of their teams, but this year I am shouting louder than ever and I am proud to do so. I know that over the past year, families affected by substance use and their loved ones, have really struggled to access many services which are supposed to provide lifeline, essential and crisis support. This is a pattern which we have seen in all corners of Scotland, and over a sustained period of time – well beyond an understandable period of immediate contingency planning and response. We hope lessons have been learned to ensure this does not happen again.
Our COVID Insights Report is the place to go to read a detailed report on our emergency response; to gain insight into the challenging experiences of family members and staff; and to understand the trends we saw throughout the year. Throughout 2020-21, families affected by alcohol and drugs have faced greater risk and harm due to an increase in substance use, substance use being more likely to happen in the home (and when family members are also at home), and the removal of many of the things which help family members cope (such as getting out to work or learning, meeting family and friends, going to the gym or to classes, and so on).
One of the things which I am pleased to say stayed the same in families’ lives over the year was our response. From Day One of lockdown, our services continued to be fully available. Our national services (Helpline, one to one Telehealth support, and Bereavement Support) continued as usual, while our local family support groups immediately moved online (and we made sure everyone was able to connect, including providing digital devices and support). We introduced a whole range of creative and engaging activities and events to keep people connected and supported, including doorstep deliveries of anything and everything people would need to take part (our now infamous ‘Stay in the Hoose’ packs) – from craft materials to ingredients and cooking utensils, to yoga mats and books). This programme is ongoing, and we are hugely grateful to all those funders who have helped us deliver this support.
“We are still open!” has been our rallying cry throughout the year (hence the name for this year’s Impact Report). Hearing how family members have felt we have been there for them through this hardest of years has been humbling and pleasing in equal measure. I am tempted to get this family member quote, “Still an absolutely amazing service. Covid has not changed this”, plastered onto a tee-shirt (or at least a mug).
– Justina Murray, CEO