Leo Bourne

Elizabeth Burton-Phillips met Leo Bourne in September 2019 at The Recovery Café in Henley on Thames.

She spoke about the work DrugFAM does to support families affected by a loved one’s alcohol and substance use at the Recovery Café Friday night meeting.

Elizabeth explained that she had recently taken over as the facilitator for the Witney Group in Oxfordshire on Monday evenings.

Leo approached Elizabeth to offer his support for DrugFAM. He started attending the weekly support group in Witney every Monday evening with her. This has continued throughout lockdown using Zoom.

Now in recovery after many years of addiction and the loss of his mother to alcoholism in 2020, Leo brings his lived experience and explanation his own mind set during his 26 years as an addict.

This has proved to be very successful to help our clients at the Witney group and he is now supporting all the other groups who meet on line including our national group.

Sophie Tickle

Sophie is a North West based performer, writer, facilitator, theatre maker, project manager and choreographer and works with different communities across the UK using the arts to; explore emotions; allow participants to tell their own stories; and empower individuals to achieve their potential.

She is currently the Lead Artist for DanceSyndrome, developing and facilitating a training programme to develop learning disabled dancers as co-leaders of community dance sessions and developing a social replication model of DanceSyndrome’s methodologies across the UK. 

She has worked with DrugFAM since 2012, performing in the play ‘Mum Can You Lend Me £20’; and developing their young people’s bereavement project BEYOND.


Sheila Allen

Sheila is retired from paid employment. Her personal circumstances include coping with members of her family with substance-misuse habits. She feels that her experience has become a gift – if she can come through, then she can help others to step out of the pit of despair too, through the support offered by DrugFAM.

Her experience includes instruction in counselling practices and theories, though she has never practised as a counsellor. She has worked since 2009 as a facilitator for DrugFAM support groups, having previously joined a predecessor support network as its client, where she first met Elizabeth, DrugFAM’s founder. She also took over the editorship of the DrugFAM newsletter, FAMfare, in 2013.

Sheila believes that adversity is the best tool for honing the senses of humour, fun and adventure.

Sheila is a facilitator at the Swallowfield Support Group.

Sally Miller

As a result of family trauma living with alcoholism and receiving specific family treatment, a startling experience in the night empowered me to create the Renewal Centre for this purpose – self-built and self-funded – in Swallowfield RG7 1TJ. Our family has been profoundly affected. 

I was fortunate to be directed to a self-help group by an enlightened addictions psychiatrist over 30 years ago, which I continue to attend regularly. I have experience of death and recovery as a result. It is my life’s purpose and pioneering vision

Peter Cartwright

Peter has worked with families affected by drug and alcohol use since 1999, mostly for the national charity Adfam. Peter also has a particular interest in counselling people who are bereaved. Since 2010 these strands of his career have come together through his work on supporting people bereaved through a drug and alcohol related bereavement. This has entailed chairing a national working group that produced the first good practice guidelines for any professional or worker who comes into contact with a bereaved person through their work.

He has also written the book Supporting People Bereaved through a Drug or Alcohol Related Death, published in 2020. He works with DrugFAM to train their staff and volunteers about supporting bereaved people, he contributed to the writing of their bereavement booklet, and facilitates the quarterly bereavement support group, as well as providing training and clinical supervision to their staff and volunteers in other matters.

Helen Nash

I found DrugFAM after reading Elizabeths book, Mum can you lend me twenty quid, and I was keen to join DrugFam as a volunteer support group facilitator.

Having raised a son who has suffered with substance misuse for over half his life, our battle began when he was just 12 years old.

During the early years of my sons addiction, I felt alone, isolated and weighed down with the mum guilt of not being able to save my baby boy. I wish I had found DrugFAM much earlier in my journey, I wouldn’t have carried so much sadness, guilt or shame for so many years.

I want to help other people who are in the sad and misfortunate situation of watching a loved one consumed by this terrible illness.

Hilary Mills

I am a mum to 4 children and 2 beautiful grandchildren and my family is the most important thing to me. I’ve worked in care for 15 years. I started by doing community work, caring mainly for the elderly, then I went on to care for children with a variety of disabilities.

In the last 3 years I’ve been working as a Mental Health support worker which is both challenging and demanding but very rewarding. I have first-hand experience of how addiction can tear families apart and personal experience of bereavement through addiction.

I watched the play  ‘Mum can you lend me 20 quid?’ which is where I found out about DrugFAM, I am passionate about supporting families as it’s a powerful thing to be able to talk, and to have someone listen, and to know you not alone.

Charlotte Price

I came to DrugFAM around 2011 as a client because a family member was addicted to drugs. I attended the High Wycombe support group for a couple of years, which gave me comfort, strength, and knowledge. Eventually I co-facilitated the group with Gill Owen-Conway.

My full-time job is in Human Resources and I found that my life experiences and what I learned from the group at DrugFAM helped me be a better HR practitioner. I also became a Mental Health First Aider at my company, thus giving me even more understanding of the struggles people face and helping me to support people suffering a mental health crisis.

I now facilitate one of the virtual national support group meetings held each week. I try to provide a safe and friendly environment for people affected by a loved one’s addiction, to share their fears, concerns, and stories. It’s a safe and friendly place where we can all have a good laugh as well as a good cry! 

DrugFAM is a wonderful charity and I’m happy to be a volunteer and to be part of its wonderful journey

Chris Addison

I am a retired chartered civil engineer, married with two adult sons. I sought help from DrugFAM several years ago when one of my sons was struggling with heroin addiction. Having stood by him while he made the choice to change for the better, I understand what it is like for families in this situation. 

Since then, I have endeavoured to make a difference to people in similar circumstances by assisting DrugFAM at a support group and on the telephone helpline. In my spare time I enjoy keeping fit, reading, walking and listening to music.

Paul Stiff

Paul comes to DrugFAM from a career background in healthcare which has covered both the UK, as well as the Middle East and Africa.

In recent years he has also been involved in heroin-substitution programmes within the European Union.

A wealth of life-experience, plus a passion to help, inform and support people with addictive disease in the family, prompted him to join us a year ago.

Paul is married with three children, and three grand-daughters.

Eleanor Knight

I’ve been a volunteer facilitator at DrugFAM since January 2019. I originally came to the group I now run as a client and I found the group’s help and support so valuable. Once I no longer needed to attend myself I wanted to give something back. So I applied to be a volunteer to help run the Peterborough group. In my spare time I can usually be found getting muddy out on my mountain bike or exploring the countryside on foot.​

Danny Woods

Danny is a Marketing & Community Projects Manager, working with young people and communities in the North West. Danny has a close relative who has battled with addiction and has experienced firsthand the devastating affects this can have on the family of those addicted. For this reason he is thrilled to be able to support DrugFAM as a social media volunteer to help communicate the fantastic work that the charity does.​

Muriel Smith

Muriel joins DrugFAM as a volunteer after a long career in health care. Initially training as a nurse, working in different clinical environments before taking on various managerial roles within hospital settings. She then worked as a National Programme Manager for the Modernisation Agency. Finally, she worked for the Defence Medical Services at the MoD as Head of Healthcare with responsibility for commissioning health care for the Armed Forces. She was made aware of DrugFAM’s work through a friend who had 1st hand experience of the effects addiction can have on families and the wider community.

Kundayi Chitenhe

I contacted DrugFAM more than two years ago after seeing Elizabeth on TV.  My initial contact was with the intention of getting advice for setting up support services for families in my home country, but I ended up being invited to volunteer. 

I am a nurse by profession and have had first-hand experience of helping people with the health emergencies arising from substance misuse. Listening to the real life experiences of those who live with, love and sometimes those who’ve lost people through addiction at DrugFAM has helped me become more compassionate as a person and in my nursing profession.

Jack Cottam

Jack is a Civil Servant living in London, though originally from Liverpool. Jack came to DrugFAM having previously volunteered at a residential heroin and alcohol detoxification centre in Oxford, whilst studying there at university. He is passionate about helping family and friends of substance users, having seen through his voluntary experience how impactful a listening and understanding ear can be.

Jane Ralls

I was drawn to DrugFAM as my friend’s son had a crack and heroin disorder for 15 years. He finally found recovery in 2018 and is now abstinent.

I witnessed how this affected the whole family practically on a daily basis. I applied to become a volunteer with DrugFAM and after training I became co-facilitator for the Sandhurst group in Spring 2019. During COVID the group has continued as normal using Zoom technology, and remains a lifeline for families and significant others who need DrugFAM’s support in their own right.

Sacha Cooper

I have been involved with fundraising for DrugFAM since 2008 and became Fundraising Trustee in 2012. I have a background in marketing and advertising, and have worked with a variety of UK multinationals, was Marketing Director for Avis, and ran my own strategic marketing consultancy. 

My objectives are to raise the profile of DrugFAM nationally and develop a comprehensive fundraising programme that enables DrugFAM to meet the needs of those families that need our help. I oversee the delivery of fundraising activities, from our Events Programme through to unique fundraising initiatives such as those in schools and prisons and I help drive our grant applications. 

Every fundraising activity, big or small, from a Summer Ball to a coffee morning helps us to help vulnerable families and no fundraising would be possible without all the volunteers and supporters who give their time to make our fundraising ideas a reality and to whom we are so grateful.

Karen Golden

My background has been in the nursing profession for over 25 years, which I enjoyed very much. I first became involved with DrugFAM several years ago, when I called the office in a somewhat desperate state following the discovery of a family member’s serious drug use.

The kindness, empathy and understanding I received from DrugFAM at this time was invaluable. I started attending a support group and with a mixture of the group, telephone and one-to-one counselling I found myself getting stronger little by little. DrugFAM helped me cope with a heartbreaking situation.

Now through my experience I help other families and give them the strength they need to carry on with their own lives. I volunteer  as a telephone support worker every week.Prime Minister Theresa May awarded Karen Golden the “Point of Light Award “for voluntary services to DrugFAM in 2017. This was presented at Downing Street during a reception hosted by the PM in recognition of the charity’s achievements.

This award was introduced in the USA by President Obama and adopted David Cameron when he was PM

Julia Sabin

I live in the beautiful countryside of North Yorkshire with my husband, 2 teenage lads and two dogs. My background was in counselling, although for the last few years I’ve been working in a pet shop/groomers part time. 

I attended my first DrugFAM conference in 2017, where I found tremendous support from people who truly understood the devastation drugs can bring to a family. My eldest son died from a drugs overdose and I am now passionate about the support DrugFAM can offer families, as well as educating, and breaking down the stigma. I look forward to my role as helpline volunteer.


Emily Margot

I came across DrugFAM after reading about Elizabeth’s book, ‘Mum Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid?’ I wrote to her asking for a copy, read it in two days then wrote to her again asking how to become a volunteer.

I was inspired to get involved as my brother is a recovering addict and supporting him each day on his journey reminds me how important a charity like DrugFAM is for families affected by substances.  The road is long but with support it becomes less daunting. 

I am currently working in central London, but training to become a psychotherapist. I enjoy finding time to escape to Cornwall and explore the glorious South West Coast Path.

Anna Ruggiero

Having been a client of DrugFAM for many years, and through the strength I gathered from their support, I decided it was time to help others in my situation and volunteer on the helpline. DrugFAM have helped me in my darkest moments and I know just how essential non-judgemental support can be when one is affected by someone else’s drug use. 

I have a background in journalism, and I enjoy writing wellbeing articles to inspire and motivate people. Also, because of life circumstances, I work in mental health offering support to those that need an extra helping hand in life. I am a Bristol-based lady and I know only too well the impact drug use can have on families. Addiction is a disease and often a symptom of an underlining mental health issue, let us break down the stigma and shame and have open conversations. It is such a pleasure to be part of DrugFAM and I hope to remain part of my “other family” for many years to come.

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