Home > Guidelines for peer-led family support groups.

Lyons, Suzi (2010) Guidelines for peer-led family support groups. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 34, Summer 2010, p. 23.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland 34) - Published Version

The Family Support Network (FSN) launched its long-awaited good practice guidelines for peer-led family support groups1 in Dublin Castle on 7 April 2010. The audience was welcomed by FSN chairman Mr Tony Hickey, and the guidelines were formally launched by Mr Eamonn Quinn of the Quinn Family Trust, who part-funded the project. Ms Sadie Grace, co-ordinator of FSN, gave a brief overview of the guidelines.  

Geraldine Hanlon, Marian Davitt, Tiffany Bourke, Gwen McKenna, Brendan Doyle, Breda Fell and Bernie Howard, all members of family support groups, spoke about their own experiences, about the benefits of such groups, and about issues such as starting up, confidentially and respite care. Minister Pat Carey, Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, also spoke at the launch. 
Developed after consultation with a wide range of interested stakeholders, the guidelines are intended to be used by all members of family support groups, with the following objectives:
  • To assist family support groups to develop good practice in all areas of the work of the group.
  • To identify training and other resources required to support good practice.
  • To ensure consistency in the practice of family support groups throughout the country.
  • To provide a basis for affiliation to the FSN. 
The document has six sections:
  1. Introduction includes items on who the guidelines are for and how best to use them;
  2. Starting a peer-led family support group includes items on the composition of groups, code of ethics and practice advice for convening meetings;
  3. Providing support in a group examines aspects of confidentiality, identifying the needs of members, and group development;
  4. Facilitation outlines the role and attributes of a good facilitator;
  5. Seeking external support deals with identifying information, self-development and training needs of a group;
  6. Setting up a family support network outlines the benefits and issues involved in setting up a network of support groups. 
Each section concludes with reflective exercises and ‘top tips’, which are also available in the form of a separate resource pack.
As well as being very comprehensive, this document clearly draws on a wealth of personal experience among the families themselves and those working with them. It is intended that the guidelines will be reviewed and updated over time.


 1. Family Support Network (2010) Good practice guidelines for peer-led family support groups. Dublin: Family Support Network.

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