Families Overcoming Addiction
Chair Persons Annual Report 2020-2021
I’m pleased to present this, our third annual report for Families Overcoming Addiction.
Reflection on this past 12 months:
The 2020 – 2021 year has been a worldwide challenge for many – including organisations such as ours, as Covid-19 resulted in lockdowns and service delivery restrictions as none of us have ever experienced before. Families Overcoming Addiction rose to the challenge, delivering services and conducting Board meetings remotely, followed by implementing physical distancing, tracking and sanitizing guidelines, making the best of a not-ideal situation and we, as all New Zealanders, are grateful that NZ’s geographic isolation prevented more extreme interruption to our lives, as experienced by other parts of the world.
As we now ease back into ‘normal’ we look back on the past 12 months as a time of both growth and stability for FOA. The stability comes from the successful funding application to the Ministry of Health via the Taranaki DHB Funding and Planning. Channa Perry, who was, at the beginning of this period, acting F&P Portfolio Manager for TDHB MH & Addictions, approached us with interest in our ability to contract for Family & Whanau Peer Support for addictions. This, of course is our core work and the Board, after a meeting with Channa, was able to put together a strong proposal, in record-fast time, and it was with a great sense of relief and pride that we signed our contract at the very end of the last financial year, just as Covid-19 was unfolding.
Now, after a full year as a fully funded not-for-profit organisation, we have enjoyed the benefit of being able to focus primarily on our core business, relaxing in the knowledge that FOA is currently financially strong and sustainable. Thank you to Channa Perry and Justin Clinton-Gohdes at Taranaki DHB for believing in us and valuing our work with whanau. And thank you to our Board for being the backbone behind our organisation, allowing others to have confidence in our small organisation.
The growth of FOA is due to the commitment and hard work of two new trainee Family Peer Specialists, Angela Mason and Kirsty Porter, who have undergone training over the past 18 months, with full support and encouragement from our Board. Due to this dedication and commitment, we will, from mid-May 2021, be offering a support group in Stratford, addressing the service gap for whanau in South Taranaki.
While our main focus is always family support and information, throughout 2020/21 we have involved ourselves in collaborative relationships with the following community organisations:
- Salvation Army Bridge
- Yellow Brick Road – formerly Supporting Families Taranaki
- Education Services – who audit our accounts and provide our group meeting venue
- Tui Ora, South Taranaki – supporting our expansion plans
- Rural Support Trust
- Brave Hearts
- Te Manawa Taki – Midland Regional Peer Led Strategy Project
- TDHB MH&A Cross-Sector Wellness Group
- New Zealand Drug Foundation
Celebration of Acknowledgment:
In October of 2020 the Board celebrated the NPDC Citizen’s Award presented to myself in recognition of my years working with families in Taranaki. I share this award with the FOA Board, the hundreds of families who, over the years have shared their courage and strength, and my own family who has travelled these miles alongside me. I am humbled by the presentation and grateful to all of those who support this work. Thank you.
As a team-building/bonding exercise and via a generous gift from a FOA whanau, in January the Board was hosted for a weekend away in Matata, where we were treated to peaceful rest and relaxation, stunning surroundings, the warmest hospitality, company of kindred spirits and beautiful food. Sadly, not all Board members were available to attend but we have been assured of a repeat invitation. Many deep and meaningful FOA conversations were held during our time together and we returned home feeling refreshed, more deeply connected and filled with gratitude.
Professional development has, and will continue to be an important goal for FOA, and never more so than these past 12 months, as we prepare to expand our service into South Taranaki. With this firmly in mind, we have been striving to access all relevant training for our two new Family Peer Specialists, Kirsty and Angela, who will be facilitating FOA Stratford. This year we attended:
- Red Cross Psychological First Aid
- P.T.S.D Webinar
- MESS Training – Peter Thorburn
- Peer Support Seminar – Peter Thorburn
- Wheelhouse Taranaki – Policy Development
- Fabulous Family Peer Specialists – A purpose designed, peer designed and peer delivered training dedicated to empowering FOA Peer Specialists.
This year was a year of policy development for FOA. We now have a Policy & Procedure Manual which contains the following:
- Health & Safety
- Discharge & Transfer
- Maori Whanau Participation
- Referral Procedure
- Suicide Response Guidelines
- Supporting Parents
- Code of Conduct
All policies include an overarching commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi, are culturally inclusive and are guided by tika, pono, aroha (integrity, respect and loving compassion).
In September 2020 the Board held its first Strategic Planning meeting. This full-day meeting developed a five-year plan for FOA which will be reviewed annually and is available on request for anyone wishing to view it.
As mentioned earlier, our funding experience has been considerably simpler this year, since securing our MoH/DHB contract. We are so grateful and proud of this.
We also obtained a small grant from COGS, thanks to our Funding Application Whizz, Karen Leonard, enabling us to replace a very outmoded computer.
We received a generous donation of a laptop for our Secretary, Angela, from Red Cross. It is so rewarding to receive such generosity from the community. Thank you.
We continue to receive regular and occasional donations from fabulous families who have accessed our services. This is a beautiful gesture and we thank those who choose to do this. And our Funding Application Whizz, Karen continues to explore opportunities with local funders to support our growth and development.
Our Board has remained stable and has continued to grow in strength and confidence throughout the past 12 months. We are proud of our principles of Tika, Pono and Aroha (Integrity, Respect, Compassion), which guide all that we do, how we do it and how we relate to whanau and one another.
As we develop and fine-tune the operational side of FOA, small changes are made which assist to streamline our operation and lighten the load. For example, Board member Raewyn took over responsibilities from our Treasurer, Chris and myself, relieving us from the ongoing tasks of putting together our Welcome folders and Self-Care Packs and providing kai & koha for our meeting venue. Thanks Raewyn – many hands make light work!
Following Kirsty’s stepping down as Treasurer last year, it was decided that she would stay on as Co-Treasurer with Chris. Kirsty now handles all our payments while Chris does an amazing job managing our budget and producing our financial reports. This co-treasury has enabled us to not only share the responsibility, but also provides financial transparency for our board.
Thank you to all of our Board members – Lynne Cameron, Karen Leonard, Raewyn Yiannett, Chris Agnew, Kirsty Porter and Angela Mason. Without your dedication, commitment, skills and passion, Families Overcoming Addiction would not exist today. You are all amazing and I thank you on behalf of all our FOA whanau.
The following figures represent the measurable work of FOA for the period 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021:
Group Attendance – 517 (This represents a Covid-effected reduction of about 20% from last year)
New Referrals – 62 (up slightly from last year)
One-to-One Sessions – 284 (increase of 30% from last year – possibly also Covid-effected)
Our Families Overcoming Addiction website continues to be a ready source of contact and information for families. This year we undertook an evaluation of the website, asking people to tell us how easily accessible, helpful and relevant the site is. The evaluation survey returned positive feedback and some helpful considerations. We record stats related to the website which informs any changes we make. Our Web-Manager, Lynne, works to keep the site up to date and working smoothly – those of us who are not technically savvy are especially thankful to Lynne.
Peer & Whanau-Led Strategy Project – Te Manawa Taki
We were invited to take part in this project which involved a site visit from two Midland Region peer specialists who interviewed me, with a set of questions, about which I sought feedback from families. This turned out to be an opportunity to showcase the journey of FOA from its infancy to where we are today – stronger, more connected, growing, learning and developing. It is with great pride that we have embarked on this journey – fully peer conceived, peer developed, peer led and operated – and we stand strong and confident in the sustainability and future for FOA whanau across Taranaki.