Group is honoured for work

Cllr Peter Wood and Karen Jackson of FUSHIA

Cllr Peter Wood and Karen Jackson of FUSHIA

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A WEARSIDE support group for families of loved ones with drug and alcohol problems has won a top national award.

Fushia – Families United Support Help In Addiction – was honoured by the charity support organisation Directory of Social Change, for its groundbreaking support work.

The Sunderland-based group received the Everyday Impact Award in recognition of the help it gives relatives and carers of people with drug and alcohol problems.

The support service, which won the New Enterprises category, was launched by Sunderland mother Karyn Jackson, who has personal experience of caring for someone with addiction problems.

Unable to find an organisation able to support her project, Karyn approached Wearside-based social enterprise firm SES, which suggested she launch her own service as a not-for-profit community interest company.

“This proved to be a great move as it enabled us to successfully apply to the Government’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund to meet our running costs,” said Karyn. “We were also backed by the city council’s Strategic Initiative Budget and Community Chest fund, as well as Safer Sunderland.

“Addiction and substance abuse affects not only the user but also family and friends, who have the stress of coping with them.

“We offer one-to-one support and group sessions to share experiences as well as a telephone support service.”

Sunderland City councillor Peter Wood sits on the board of Fushia and helped it to successfully apply for local authority funding.

“There was a gap in care provision across the city and now Fuscia is providing an extremely valuable service to people who previously had no one to turn to,” he said.

Fushia works with more than 100 families in Sunderland and Washington and operates drop-in sessions at five GP’s surgeries, with plans to roll out more across the city.

SES director Kevin Marquis said: “Fushia is living proof of exactly what the Government is wanting more people to do – that is deliver local services to a high standard.”

The support service was nominated for the national award and made it down to a short list of three from several hundred organisations from across the UK.

The winner of each category was presented with a cartoon depicting their service drawn by top UK illustrator Grizelda, who draws for national newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times and Spectator.

Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of Directory of Social Change, said: “Fushia is a great example of people caring about other people in their communities.  But the carers need looking after too. That is Fushia’s niche and their innovation.”

All staff at Fushia have personal experience of caring for substance misusers and are available for a confidential chat on 567 0581.