DrugFAM Newsletter Winter 2020

We’re writing this newsletter at the beginning of December, which is the time of the year that we prepare our annual report for the National Lottery. 

Here are some stats taken from the report…

We Supported 2,000 Families on our Helpline Last Year!

Over the past year, we supported close to 2,000 families!  This is solely on the Helpline and excludes the 1,000 other clients who we support via email, one-to-ones and our six weekly support groups.

One client stated that “Looking for help when I did was an act of desperation. Unburdening myself to DrugFAM in itself brought relief. The positive suggestions offering a way forward has given me the means to start the process of recovering a measure of control of my life. The feeling of isolation has diminished as there is now a point of contact should I need it”.

When it comes to substance misuse, this situation is fairly common.  Typically, someone will try to manage the situation themselves, the relationship spirals out of control, to the point where they reach out to us in crisis.

Sadly, there are also many occasions where we are contacted in the event of the loss of a loved one.

Latest Drug Related Deaths Figures

The Home Office reported that drug related deaths had climbed 16% to 4,359 in 2018. 

One startling statistic, is that there are now more drug related deaths, than deaths due to road traffic accidents.

2,917 deaths were due to misuse, meaning that they involved illegal drugs, or severe drug dependence.

It’s such a shame to see these figures continue to rise each year as some of these deaths could be avoided by using Naloxone.

New Helpline Phone System

We received just over 10,000 telephone calls for the second year running. 

We have discovered is that Talk-To-FRANK are signposting 1 in 3 new clients to us. 

What’s so frustrating is that they’re funded by the Home Office and we’re not receiving a penny for doing the job that they are paid to do!

Earlier this year, we spoke to the Minister for Crime at the Home Office to discuss funding, but since the start of Brexit, it’s like musical chairs in Westminster.  They’ve either resigned, been sacked, joined another party, you name it and they’re doing it.

We managed to discuss this issue with John Lewis and they were generous enough to fund a new telephone system for the next 2-years.

This will give us both the capacity to grow and the ability to have more staff/volunteers manning the phone. 

We went live on 28 November and we’re relieved to say that the transition was seamless.

The Gym Group Comes To The Rescue!

Anthony from the Gym Group & The Team

If you’ve ever travelled to our office in High Wycombe, you would have seen how expensive it is to park there.

Following a meeting with Anthony, the Manager of the gym which is based below us, he offered free parking for the staff.

We’re so grateful to the Gym Group as their generosity will reduce the financial burden on the staff who man the Helpline during office hours.

Vulnerability Conference

Elizabeth was invited to speak at Mountain Healthcare’s vulnerability conference which took park at the Thames Valley Police training centre in Berkshire.

The event was attended by a variety of agencies including Thames Valley Police, Surrey Police, NHS England and Turning Point, to name a few.

When you stop and think about it, it’s not just the elderly, or the young who are vulnerable, we can all be vulnerable in our day to day lives – it could be a new mobile phone, travelling to somewhere unfamiliar, or it can be specific circumstances that make you feel uncomfortable.

Turning Point brought two recovering addicts to the conference; one was a young lady called Romina, whose new-born baby spent 8-weeks in detox and the other was Peter, a recovering addict who lived on the streets of Slough for nearly 40 years.

Whilst listening to their stories, they described a moment of vulnerability that drove both of them down the path of substance abuse and addiction.

The good news is that they have both turned their lives around.  Romina is now a peer mentor at Turning Point and Peter has started his own gardening business in Slough.

Selling Drugs In The Age of Social Media

In September, Voltface released a study where they found that 1 in 4 young people aged between 16 to 24, reported that they saw illicit drugs advertised for sale on social media.

56% saw this on Snapchat, 55% on Instagram and 47% on Facebook. 

The most commonly seen drug was Cannabis (seen by 63% of young people), followed by Cocaine at 26%, MDMA/ecstasy 24%, Xanax 20%, Nitrous Oxide 17% and Codeine/Lean at 16%.

72% said that they saw drugs advertised on these platforms once or more per month.

What’s worrying is that 36% were not concerned by seeing drugs advertised for sale on social media – this percentage increased the younger they were, with 33% of 18+ not concerned, versus 48% for under-18’s.

Funding For The Play “Mum Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid?”

Marina, who spoke at the Vulnerability Conference, was at school when she started drinking and she eventually escalated to using Crack Cocaine.

Statistics from the NHS state that 37% of 15-year olds have taken an illegal substance.  For some unfortunate children they’ll also get caught up in County Lines, or the violence of knife crime that we read about and see on TV.

In the Serious Violence Strategy, the Home Office estimated that 57% of all homicides are linked to drugs.

Sue Jackson, one of our Ambassadors and the High Sheriff of Berkshire, both managed to secure funding to support taking the Play into schools.

The structure of our schools’ program is to perform the Play “Mum, can you lend me £20 quid” and then run a workshop to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding drugs, gangs and exploitation.

Elizabeth, Sue Jackson & Prospects Estate Agency

The Annual Bereavement Conference

We ran our 11th conference in October at the Crowne Plaza Gerrards Cross.

This was a brand new venue and following the positive feedback from the delegates we will run next year’s event there as well.

The theme of the conference was ‘Understanding Addiction: Making sense of our loved one’s struggle’.

Peter Cartwright facilitated the day and we learnt about the impact addiction from professionals as well as from families who shared their personal stories.

Professor Sir John Strang spoke about what addiction is and how it happens.  He explained how someone can become susceptible to addiction.

He also shared statistics on drug deaths and the risks of overdose using Opiates, such as Heroin.

Paul Bayes-Kitcher spoke about his experience of addiction and how his charity, Fallen Angels, helps recovering addicts through the medium of dance.

We also got an insight into the experience of a policeman who works with people who are addicted from T/Chief Inspector Jason Kew. 

Jason, talked about the work being trialled in Newbury by Thames Valley Police called the Drugs Diversion Scheme and he also talked about Heroin Assisted Treatment and Overdose Prevention Centres, but the most stark message from Jason was that stigma kills.

The Nicholas Mills Memorial Project Gets Rebranded!

The Nicholas Mills Memorial Project was launched in 2015 and was aimed specifically at young people who have been bereaved by drugs or alcohol.

A focus group was held with a group of bereaved young people and their feedback suggested that we should change the name to make the description match the purpose of the workshops.

Rosy suggested BEYOND and everyone agreed that this was perfect!

Our aim for BEYOND (BEreaved YOung adults through alcohol aNd Drugs) is to provide an opportunity for young people to meet others, to share their stories and to access their emotions in a safe, supportive environment.

We believe that hosting the workshops more frequently in both in London and Manchester will provide greater opportunities for young people to attend and support one another.

For more details, including how to book a place at one of our workshops, please DOWNLOAD the BEYOND booklet.

Please Nominate Us For Funding!

The SUN newspaper has announced that it is to give away £1m to small local charities over the next year through the new Sun Readers Fund.

The fund has been launched to celebrate the paper’s 50th birthday and charities can be nominated to receive a donation of anything between £2,000 and £20,000. 

Nominations are open now, until 18 December and we would like to ask you to please nominate us.

All that you need to do is to go online and using 400 words tell The Sun why we deserve to be funded. 

Please visit The SUN and click on the link near the bottom of the page called “CHOOSE YOUR CHARITY”.

They will ask you for the following information:

  • Our charity number, which is 1123316
  • The category that is relevant to DrugFAM is “Health And Wellbeing”
  • We would like you to recommend that we receive £10,500 for our family support groups in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire as this will enable us to run weekly sessions in each location.  Across our services we support 2,800 families and receive 10,100 calls every year from across the UK.

Thank you for your support, as this is a great opportunity for us to raise some funding for our weekly support groups.

25th Birthday National Lottery Awards

On the 15th October 2019, Elizabeth was duped by Andrew and Simon into attending the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards at the BBC Television Centre in London.

Elizabeth didn’t realise that they had been colluding with the both BBC and The National Lottery for months and as you can see, she was totally gob-smacked!

Whilst it was a thoroughly enjoyable star-studded evening, it was humbling to see the work of so many different charities making a difference in their own way.

If you’ve seen the show, you will realise that the charities featured received £10,000.  However DrugFAM were not awarded any funding, because this was a recognition award to Elizabeth for her personal dedication.

If you haven’t watched it and you do want to see Elizabeth’s reaction, then CLICK HERE to view the footage.

Although we receive no government funding, we are committed to providing our services free of charge to the families so desperately in need and so we depend upon charitable donations from individual supporters, charitable trusts, foundations and from corporate donors.

If you would like to donate to enable us to support families whose loved ones are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can either donate on our JustGiving page, or via our website.

The Gambling Commission

As well as license and regulate the people and businesses that provide gambling in Great Britain, the Gambling Commission also regulate the National Lottery.

Neil McArthur, the Chief Executive, along with Catharine Seddon and Balshen Izzet visited the office to learn more about DrugFAM and how the charity has benefitted from Lottery funding.

It was an interesting meeting learning more about the challenges of gambling addiction and the similarities we both shared.

Charles, Neil McArthur, Elizabeth, Catharine Seddon & Andrew

Merry Christmas!

On behalf of all the Staff & Volunteers at DrugFAM, we would like to thank you for your support and we wish you and your loved ones a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Elizabeth Burton-Phillips receives a Special Recognition Award by the National Lottery for her Services to Charity



“On the 15th October 2019, I was honoured with a Special Recognition Award at the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards, which was broadcast on BBC One, Tuesday 19th November. 

This coincidentally was the anniversary of Nick, my late son’s birthday, in memory of whom DrugFAM was founded

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, which I was duped into attending, by Andrew, Simon, the BBC and The National Lottery, so I was rather unprepared for the wonderful surprise that ensued. 

Each year the Special Recognition Award is given to someone that deserves to be acknowledged and thanked for their hard work. Their achievements don’t have to be large or far reaching, but the quality and thoughtfulness of their work has touched the lives of those around them.

If you watch this video, you will see Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville hand over a 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards trophy alongside presenter Ore Oduba, to me at the star-studded bash; with Laurence Fox, Masterchef’s John Torode and Greg Wallace and singer Emeli Sande amongst the famous faces in the audience.

There’s also a short film highlighting the work and impact of DrugFAM.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to you for supporting DrugFAM. Your valued contributions have been vital to our success, and on behalf of our staff and volunteers, I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ for having helped make our achievements possible.”  Elizabeth Burton-Phillips QVA MBE


Please click on the link below to view the special moment


DrugFAM is pleased to announce that our founder Elizabeth Burton-Phillips has been awarded an MBE.

DrugFAM is pleased to announce that our founder Elizabeth Burton-Phillips has been awarded an MBE in The 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for ‘services to people who experience drug addiction and their families’

The award is given by the Queen to an individual for outstanding service to the community. Elizabeth Burton-Phillips has been given the MBE in recognition of her unwavering and tireless contributions to raise awareness of the impact of drug and alcohol addiction on families; influencing policy and practice so the needs of families are better recognised and met.

Elizabeth founded the charity DrugFAM in 2006 which provides a lifeline to families, friends and partners affected by someone else’s addiction including those bereaved by addiction.

Elizabeth is the author of ‘Mum, can you lend me twenty quid? What drugs did to my family’ which was first published in 2007. Her personal memoir has now been read by many thousands of people across the world as it has been translated into 5 languages. The book describes how an ordinary family was devastated by drug addiction which led one of Elizabeth’s twin sons, Nick, to end his life in 2004, aged just 27. In 2012, “Mum, can you lend me £20?” was adapted into a Theatre in Education stage play for schools, prisons, rehabs, drug services and the community; celebrating the 100th performance at the Palace of Westminster in October 2015.

There will be an updated publication released by Piatkus/Little Brown Book Group on 7 December 2017 which will embrace the achievements of the charity over the last ten years.
Elizabeth was co-opted on to the government’s Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs New Recovery Committee in 2012. She has contributed to research by the Universities of Bath and Sterling which has produced new guidelines for professionals working with those bereaved by substance use. She has continues to deliver lectures and key note speeches to clinicians, practitioners and other stakeholders at schools, prisons, and conference events across the globe.

Elizabeth was recognised as a Woman of Achievement at the annual Women of the Year Lunch Awards from 2009-2012 and her courage and determination to support families continues to be acknowledged around the world.

Speaking about the award Elizabeth said:

‘I am truly humbled to accept this award from Her Majesty The Queen. The MBE will, without question, strengthen my resolve and determination to continue to do all I can to support families impacted by


PRESS RELEASE: 11th November 2019, Renowned Psychotherapist Noel McDermott Joins Charity DrugFAM as a Trustee

Noels Press Release Nov 11 2019

DrugFAM Newsletter Summer 2019

Dear Friends of DrugFAM,

It’s a while since we have been in touch with you all so it seems appropriate as we are just over half-way through the year to give you a roundup of our news and activities.

Meeting  with Victoria Atkins MP – February 2019

In the spring we met with Victoria at the House of Commons and she has officially endorsed DrugFAM’s work supporting families and significant others.

We also have the opportunity to showcase DrugFAM to the National Mental Health Director of NHS England in August which we are really looking forward to.

Our Helpline

We have been very busy supporting clients on our helpline and our latest evidence shows that last year calls grew by 55% to over 10,000 for the year. 

We have recently secured a grant from John Lewis to fund a new internet based telephone system which we will be installing very soon which will make a huge difference for our callers .

We’ve had a strong start to Quarter 1 this year as we’ve taken 2,400 calls to the end of March. Thank you to everyone who works or volunteers on the helpline and to Gill Owen-Conway who is now our helpline manager.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer please look at our website here and send your application to Gill (gill@drugfam.co.uk).

March 2019 – The Play

Adapted from Elizabeth’ s book, the play “Mum, Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid?” has been redeveloped and it now a one-hour production suitable for school timetables or other communities and corporates.

It was launched officially in Borehamwood on Sunday March 10th at Maxwell Park Community Centre.  Over 200 people attended and we raised £800 in donations that afternoon.

If you would like to commission  or sponsor the play for your school or community  performed by “It Is What It Is” Productions, please contact Sophie Tickle directly (sophie@iiwiip.co.uk).

The feedback on the new version is phenomenal as you can read on the flyers.

Support Groups

We have launched a new group in Sandhurst every Sunday morning. 

We have merged our support group in Chesham with our Group in High Wycombe  and details of all our support groups can be found here.

We’re  now actively looking to open a group in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, and also in either Aylesbury, or Milton Keynes.

Text Five

We have launched a new campaign called “Text 5” where Russell Brand has kindly lent his support to our cause.  You can watch his short video here  on our fundraising page.

We have other high-profile celebrities lined up, but we won’t share any names until the video is ready to roll. So please do support Text Five if you would like do donate.

The Bereaved

Our annual conference for those bereaved through drug, or alcohol misuse and related causes with be held on Sat October 12th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Gerrards Cross.

For further details please visit this page.

For those families sadly bereaved through drugs or alcohol we continue with our quarterly Sunday afternoon support groups led by Peter Cartwright our experienced bereaved through addiction counsellor.

Our most recent group, held on 21st July, looked at coping with guilt and was very well attended.   We are going to offer our young bereaved clients a brand new service incorporating more opportunities for them to get together to share thanks to the generosity of the Wates Foundation’s grant – we will keep you updated on this.

Current Fundraisers

Our thanks to  Debbie Walker https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/deborah-walker33 and to Paul Myerscough https://www.justgiving.com/teams/PaulM who are raising funds for us.

Deborah is actually climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for DrugAM  and Paul calls his efforts “I am Crazy”. Do have a look at their stories.

Educational Talks Elizabeth

Sometimes accompanied by Gill, Elizabeth has been round and about speaking in a variety of local Thames Valley Schools and other venues including Claire’s Court School Maidenhead,  BCA 6th Form College Burchetts Green, Gillotts School Henley, Emmbrook School Wokingham, Maiden Erleigh School, Waingels Academy in Woodley and the Scouts in Beaconsfield.

Further afield other schools who have invited Elizabeth to speak are Bolton School for Boys, St Bede’s College Manchester, Stockport Grammar School, Cheadle Hulme School also in Stockport. If you would like to commission a talk in your school or organisation please contact office@drugfam.co.uk 

On Wycombe Sound, the local community radio station, Mimi Harker OBE who hosts her own radio show ‘Mimi Meets’ hosted an hour’s interview about the work DrugFAM does both locally and nationally in May this year.

You can listen to the interview here on ‘Listen Again’ after the news and sport on 2nd June 2019.

This is just a snap-shot into the busy day-to-day life on DrugFAM over the last few months!

THANK YOU to our fantastic frontline team – Steve, Jackie, Dawn, Peter and our Helpline manager Gill, plus all of our lovely, committed and dedicated volunteers who all work so hard seven days a week from 9am to 9pm!

A special thanks to Andrew McBarnett who works so hard to keep us afloat financially and has worked closely to evidence our need for core funding.

He and I have been moving and shaking trying to get even more funds into our bank account and we have an exciting meeting booked with the NHS in August and I will let you know how it goes in the next newsletter.

And finally, welcome to our new Chair of Trustees, Charles Owen-Conway, who joined us in June. You can read about Charles here and if you would like to apply to become a trustee then please contact Charles directly (charles@drugfam.co.uk).

Regards, Elizabeth

“Mum, can you lend me twenty quid” The Play

For the full details, please download our conference programme.

Points of Light Winners

DrugFAM is delighted to announce that volunteers Gill Owen-Conway and Karen Golden were presented with Points of Light awards by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at the recent Downing Street Reception.

We would like to add our congratulations to Gill and Karen who who thoroughly deserve this recognition for all of the time they commit to supporting those affected by someone else’s addiction.

Theresa May hosted a reception for DrugFAM at 10 Downing Street

Theresa May DrugFAM


On Monday 27th of November Theresa May hosted a reception for DrugFAM at 10 Downing Street. The event was held to recognise the charity’s achievements, which this year have included:

– Receiving the Queens Award for Voluntary Service
– Holding a Service of Celebration and Hope at Westminster Abbey
– Our founder Elizabeth Burton-Phillips being awarded an MBE for ‘services to people who experience addiction and their families’

The reception was also a unique and special opportunity for DrugFAM to thank all of their staff, volunteers, trustees and supporters many of whom have been in contact with the charity since inception and without whom the charity would not be able to offer support to those who need it.

Special guest, Sharon Osbourne, gave the introductory speech to the 180 guests who included Theresa May, Victoria Atkins MP, Steve Baker MP, Jonty Hearnden, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Commander Simon Bray, The Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon at Westminster Abbey, Sir Anthony Seldon, Professor John Kelly as well as many key supporters of DrugFAM.

Theresa May gave the main speech of the evening which included the following quotes:

“I was proud to serve as a patron of DrugFAM before I was appointed Home Secretary. The work you do makes a huge difference. You ensure that families, friends and partners affected by a loved one’s addiction get the support they need.”

“… And what has really enabled DrugFAM to do that has been the dedication and commitment of all its volunteers, and I am delighted that so many of you are here tonight. Without your generosity and the gift of time which you give to DrugFAM nothing it has achieved would have been possible.”

This wonderful occasion also saw the launch of the updated edition of ‘Mum, can you lend me twenty quid? What drugs did to my family’ the book written by DrugFAM’s founder Elizabeth Burton-Phillips, which is due for release on the 7th December. The new content brings Elizabeth’s story up-to-date by sharing the story of DrugFAM’s creation and the inspiring work supporting families impacted by addiction