Sabina Higgins, wife of President of Ireland, last week met with Donna Butler from the Donegal-based Alcohol Forum and National SFP Council of Ireland for the launch of a national report.
Ms Higgins launched the National Strengthening Families Programme Council of Ireland’s report on March 23rd in Ballymun, Dublin. The report, titled, “Family Effects: Strengthening Families Programme 10 Year Outcomes in Ireland” sets out the national evidence of the positive impact of the programme on the lives of parents and children.
Donegal woman Donna Butler, Chair of the National SFP Council of Ireland, and Manager of the Families Matter programme with Donegal based charity Alcohol Forum, was delighted to see the national report confirm what her experience in Donegal has told her; that the Strengthening Families Programme (SFP) delivers significant improvements in the lives of families who take part.
Alcohol Forum deliver SFP in Donegal with programmes currently running in Inishowen and the next one due to start in Letterkenny.
Speaking at the launch, Ms Butler said: “I’ve represented the Alcohol Forum on the National Council since 2012 as we deliver Strengthening Families here in Donegal. When we welcome a family to the programme they’re often dealing with more than one challenge. While we are charity focused on preventing and reducing the harm from alcohol, families are referred to our programmes for a variety of reasons.
“This report analyses ten years of results. It clearly shows that, no matter why a family joins the programme, they leave better able to cope and with skills they can use when facing difficult periods. That’s a great outcome for the family, but also a strong endorsement of the Strengthening Families Programme for all involved.”
The SFP is a 14 week programme that works with the whole family to build skills week by week. Each session starts with all the families sitting down for a meal together. Unlike other family support programmes, SFP works with parents and children as a unit with separate and joint sessions. This whole-family approach has proven to significantly improve the outcomes for families.
The National SFP Council of Ireland was set up in 2012 to foster inter-regional collaboration, promote quality standards, and share learning across Ireland.
Ms Butler said: “This review of 10 years of programmes shows SFP is doing what it’s meant to and that’s help families deal with difficulties they confront much more effectively. This report gives agencies the impact evidence they need to continue supporting or funding ‘Strengthening Families Programmes’ in our communities and that’s good for local families.”
A copy of the new report can be downloaded here.