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.

Leah Collingwood

Leah joined DrugFAM at the same time as her sister, Chloe. After they both read Elizabeth’s book, they wanted to give back to others who may have similar shared experiences of addiction.

With a father battling addiction for most of his life, Leah understands the stigma, isolation and ripple effect of family addiction. She is passionate about breaking down the barriers of shame and seeing a world that shows more empathy around addiction – whether for the person using or their loved ones impacted.

She works as a Director of a recruitment agency. She lives outside London with her husband, two-year-old daughter and cat, Maurice. Health and wellbeing are essential to Leah and spending time with her family. She practises Ashtanga yoga, loves being outdoors in nature, she’s an enthusiastic photographer, and ploughs through books like there’s no tomorrow!

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. 

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.


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.

Michelle Rogers

I am a single and proud Mum of an artistic daughter and small business owner in the West Midlands.

I discovered DrugFAM when I heard Elizabeth Burton-Phillips on the radio with Russell Brand and I knew I had to help. I feel I understand the overpowering effects addiction has on families and wish I had known about DrugFAM years ago.    

I am currently training to be a Counsellor but will continue to work with DrugFAM where I feel part of a great family where I feel fulfilled when I have helped someone have a realisation that they are not alone, and things can still be ok. 

Elisa Harris

Elisa joined DrugFAM as a volunteer after contacting the helpline when she needed support after losing her brother to a long running substance addiction.

She works as a full time PA and had previously volunteered with various local groups and events in her local area along with coaching at her local running club each month.

She heard Elizabeth speak a few years ago which is how she first heard about the charity not knowing that she would call their helpline a few months later when her brother died. The helpline proved a huge support and safe space for her to speak without feeling judged and who listened when she felt most people in her life didn’t understand or know what to say. 5 years down the line she wanted to give spending back and so trained as a volunteer.

In her spare time she runs ultra marathons, paddle boards and rescues chickens.

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.

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.

Marie Ferry

Marie’s background for the past 17 years has been in the private education sector carrying out the role of Registrar.

Marie found DrugFAM after reading Elizabeth‘s book ‘Mum, Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid’ and felt impelled to give something back by training to be a Helpline Volunteer.

Marie has her own experience of the ripple effect which substance misuse can cause to family members and feels honoured to be a part of the DrugFAM team, supporting those affected or bereaved by a loved one’s harmful use of drugs, alcohol or gambling.

Marie enjoys reading, keeping fit with Irish dancing and loves to spend time with her family.

Lily Hill

Lily started training with DrugFAM in 2021 and now works on the helpline. Her background is in psychology and she is currently undertaking a PhD in forensic psychology.

She came across DrugFAM by accident, ordering Elizabeth’s book whilst searching for answers for her fathers and brothers’ addiction. Shortly after finishing the book her father died and after many years of feeling isolated and alone she found DrugFAM.

She decided to volunteer so that she could be part of a charity that provides a safe space for the loved ones affected by addiction, whose voices often go unheard. She is proud to be part of a team that does just that.

In her spare time she is a keen gardener, boxer and a true dog lover..


Connie is now residing Devon after a long spell in London working in the music industry. Following a fast paced career, she is looking to put time into helping others and be able to offer support in the same way the Drugfam helpline supported her. Connie has her own experience of being in a family affected by addiction and found huge comfort in the helpline at a time when she didn’t know where else to turn. Connie enjoys coastal walks, creating music, meditation and is dipping her toe into cold water therapy trying out sea swims all year round.


Chloe Collingwood

My name is Chloe and I’m a new Helpline volunteer. My day-to-day job is brand marketing and I joined DrugFam looking to get involved in more purposed-driven activities outside of work. In my spare time I love to read, exercise and cook. The DrugFam mission is very close to my heart as someone who has had to personally support a family member with addiction and knows what an isolating experience it can be. I find it very rewarding to use my experience to help others and am very happy to be joining the team.

Amy Thorburn

Amy lives in London and works for a Technology company. Having accessed other charities similar to DrugFAM in Australia, where she used to live, she understands the importance of being able to access support and feel less alone when experiencing challenging times. Being able to speak with someone confidentially and freely really helped her which is why she wanted to work with DrugFAM.

In her spare time, Amy loves travelling and exploring new places, running, reading, spending time with friends, family and her dog Bo.

Malcolm Grimshaw

Malcolm is retired from paid employment. He trained as a scientist and most of his career was spent helping new research ideas to reach the market. He has always wanted to be useful to society and now hopes to help others such as himself who have experienced the impact that addiction can have on a family. Malcolm understands only too well the constant worry and pain that living with a loved one with an addiction can bring.

Malcolm wishes to bring understanding and support to families and friends who feel at a loss and do not know what to do next. He believes strongly that being able to speak freely to a volunteer without any judgement of any kind brings relief and makes you feel less alone when experiencing very difficult times with heart-breaking situations.

Now that he has retired Malcolm is able to enjoy walking and cycling, watching cricket and spending time with his family.


Sarah Lonergan

Sarah lives in London and works in the technology industry. After graduating from university, Sarah travelled widely and then spent the best part of a decade living in Australia. She is now happily settled back in the UK and enjoying everything the UK and Europe has to offer. Outside of work, Sarah spends a lot of time running or swimming. She loves to travel and read and spend time with family and friends.

Sarah has previously volunteered in the humanitarian sector, supporting refugees and is passionate about providing help and support to those who need it. The mission of DrugFam is one that is close to Sarah’s heart and she understands how important it is to talk about addiction and ensure that loved ones have the support needed. She hopes to bring her experience and knowledge to provide a little comfort and support to those who call us.


Vid Mlakar

Vid joined the DrugFAM team in 2022 as a helpline volunteer. With first and post-graduate degrees in Psychology and Early Intervention in Psychosis, Vid has worked in psychiatric research as well as clinical practice, helping deliver psychosocial interventions, and in mental heath charities such as OCD Action, facilitating support groups for individuals living with OCD spectrum disorders.

Vid joined DrugFAM, due to an intimate awareness of how substance use can impact a family unit, as well as an acute understanding of the necessity for family support. In effect, as part of the helpline team, Vid hopes to utilise his past work in mental health, as well as his own lived experience, to support those affected by a loved one’s addiction.

In his spare time, Vid enjoys spending time with his friends, partner, and family, traveling, reading and gaming.

Kirsty Maciver

Kirsty is living in London and training as a Genetic Counsellor.

 She worked as a community care worker in Glasgow during the course of her undergrad degree and came across DrugFAM whilst searching for some volunteer work post-graduation to continue supporting others in times of need. The DrugFAM mission resonated straight away having witnessed the importance of support for families and reducing the stigma around addiction whilst working in care.

In her spare time, Kirsty enjoys running, cooking, live music and spending time with friends and family. 

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