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.

Tahereh Ansari

I joined DrugFAM in 2021, from a background in Information Technology and Customer Services in the Banking sector. In the past, I have also carried out various interpreting and translations on a voluntary basis.

The volunteering I do for DrugFAM as a family support worker is very rewarding as it comes from the excellent training I have received from this award winning charity and I intend to stay with DugFAM long term; I have found DrugFAM an amazing Company to work for and a wonderful team, making such a vital difference to families grappling with a loved one’s addiction.

In February 2022, I completed the translation of Elizabeth Burton Phillips’, our founder’s book; ‘Mum can you lend me twenty quid’, 2017 version, to Farsi Persian. It took me a year to translate the book and it really was an honour and privilege to be given the opportunity to carry out this work. This Farsi translation is available to read online from my website: Click here, under the translation section from the menu. I am hoping that this work will result in a much better insight of addiction and recovery for Farsi speaking clients, with the aim of reaching the wider community and helping more and more families in distress.

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. 

Helen Nash

I found DrugFAM after reading Elizabeths book, Mum can you lend me twenty quid, and I was keen to join DrugFam as a volunteer support group facilitator.

Having raised a son who has suffered with substance misuse for over half his life, our battle began when he was just 12 years old. 

During the early years of my sons addiction, I felt alone, isolated and weighed down with the mum guilt of not being able to save my baby boy. I wish I had found DrugFAM much earlier in my journey, I wouldn’t have carried so much sadness, guilt or shame for so many years.

I want to help other people who are in the sad and misfortunate situation of watching a loved one consumed by this terrible illness.

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.

Charlotte Price

I came to DrugFAM around 2011 as a client because a family member was addicted to drugs. I attended the High Wycombe support group for a couple of years, which gave me comfort, strength, and knowledge. Eventually I co-facilitated the group with Gill Owen-Conway.

My full-time job is in Human Resources and I found that my life experiences and what I learned from the group at DrugFAM helped me be a better HR practitioner. I also became a Mental Health First Aider at my company, thus giving me even more understanding of the struggles people face and helping me to support people suffering a mental health crisis.

I now facilitate one of the virtual national support group meetings held each week. I try to provide a safe and friendly environment for people affected by a loved one’s addiction, to share their fears, concerns, and stories. It’s a safe and friendly place where we can all have a good laugh as well as a good cry!

is a wonderful charity and I’m happy to be a volunteer and to be part of its wonderful journey.

Chris Addison

I am a retired chartered civil engineer, married with two adult sons. I sought help from DrugFAM several years ago when one of my sons was struggling with heroin addiction. Having stood by him while he made the choice to change for the better, I understand what it is like for families in this situation.

Since then, I have endeavoured to make a difference to people in similar circumstances by assisting DrugFAM at a support group and on the telephone helpline. In my spare time I enjoy keeping fit, reading, walking and listening to music.

Paul Stiff

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. 

Danny Woods

Danny is a Marketing & Community Projects Manager, working with young people and communities in the North West.

Danny has a close relative who has battled with addiction and has experienced firsthand the devastating affects this can have on the family of those addicted. For this reason he is thrilled to be able to support DrugFAM as a social media volunteer to help communicate the fantastic work that the charity does..

Victoria Patterson

Victoria started her nurse training at 18. During her nursing career she worked in a variety of care settings including a hospice and a brain injury rehabilitation unit.

In 2019 she decided to become a support worker and has supported a number of different clients with acquired brain injuries and complex needs in their own homes, which she finds very rewarding. She has also worked as a volunteer for a mental health support group and a homeless project.

Victoria has received support herself from Drugfam and has experienced first-hand the impact drug and alcohol addiction can have on the family. It is for that reason and how invaluable she found the DrugFAM support that she felt passionate about becoming a helpline volunteer.

Kundayi Chitenhe

I contacted DrugFAM more than two years ago after seeing Elizabeth on TV.  My initial contact was with the intention of getting advice for setting up support services for families in my home country, but I ended up being invited to volunteer.

I am a nurse by profession and have had first-hand experience of helping people with the health emergencies arising from substance misuse. Listening to the real life experiences of those who live with, love and sometimes those who’ve lost people through addiction at DrugFAM has helped me become more compassionate as a person and in my nursing profession.

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.

Jane Ralls

I was drawn to DrugFAM as my friend’s son had a crack and heroin disorder for 15 years. He finally found recovery in 2018 and is now abstinent.

I witnessed how this affected the whole family practically on a daily basis. I applied to become a volunteer with DrugFAM and after training I became co-facilitator for the Sandhurst group in Spring 2019. During COVID the group has continued as normal using Zoom technology, and remains a lifeline for families and significant others who need DrugFAM’s support in their own right.

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.

Emily Margot

I came across DrugFAM after reading about Elizabeth’s book, ‘Mum Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid?’ I wrote to her asking for a copy, read it in two days then wrote to her again asking how to become a volunteer.

I was inspired to get involved as my brother is a recovering addict and supporting him each day on his journey reminds me how important a charity like DrugFAM is for families affected by substances.  The road is long but with support it becomes less daunting.

I am currently working in central London, but training to become a psychotherapist. I enjoy finding time to escape to Cornwall and explore the glorious South West Coast Path.

Anna Ruggiero

Having been a client of DrugFAM for many years, and through the strength I gathered from their support, I decided it was time to help others in my situation and volunteer on the helpline. DrugFAM have helped me in my darkest moments and I know just how essential non-judgemental support can be when one is affected by someone else’s drug use. 

I have a background in journalism, and I enjoy writing wellbeing articles to inspire and motivate people. Also, because of life circumstances, I work in mental health offering support to those that need an extra helping hand in life. I am a Bristol-based lady and I know only too well the impact drug use can have on families. Addiction is a disease and often a symptom of an underlining mental health issue, let us break down the stigma and shame and have open conversations. It is such a pleasure to be part of DrugFAM and I hope to remain part of my “other family” for many years to come.


Tammy Mckenzie

Tammy and her son Charlie live in a garrison with her husband Mark who is in the army. Tammy contacted DrugFAM after she lost her mum 4 years ago to heroin addiction. DrugFAM helped her so much through the dark times that she really wanted to be able to give something back.

Tammy spoke at the 2021 annual bereavement conference and became a volunteer with DrugFAM later on in the year. She also speaks to soldiers about addiction and the services DrugFAM provides and hopes to help others to seek help when they need it. Tammy finds the bereaved side of the work really interesting  and is looking to eventually specialise in this area of support.

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Serena Patel

Serena started training for DrugFAM in 2021, as a volunteer on the helpline.

Over 12 years, she has worked with charities Age UK, EMSH and LOROS, volunteering as a sales assistant, receptionist, and snack bar attendant. With an academic background in biological sciences, she has been employed in laboratory, customer service and administrative positions.

Serena became involved with DrugFAM following a first-hand experience of the effects addiction can have on a family. Being on the helpline can be a challenge, but it is worth it as it means no one has to be alone. Listening to people’s experiences has helped her become more compassionate by gaining an understanding of the struggles of addiction, which often are misunderstood.

In her spare time, Serena enjoys doing puzzles, creative projects, and spending time with 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..


Suzi Linaker

Suzi worked as a Practice Manager in GP surgeries for many years, managing the day to day running of the medical facilities, identifying and planning new services when required, and providing a service to meet patient needs in diverse and ever changing environments.  Responsible for all Human Resource in the surgery, implementing and updating policies and procedures, together with forecasting and monitoring surgery finances.

She lived in the Middle East for 5 years and on her return to the UK worked as a freelance florist.  During this time she became aware through her own wider family of the increased use of drugs amongst young people and the chaotic and disruptive effect this can have on the parents, siblings and other family members.  This experience highlighted the stigma attached to drugs and the judgemental attitudes surrounding addiction.  Wanting to make a difference and use the skills she had gained during her career Suzi applied to be a helpline volunteer.

In her spare time she enjoys walking her border terrier, golf and quilting.


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.

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