Each year our service continues to grow, both in attendance and services provided. The best way to get a sense of what FAST is about is to hear appraisals from other people who have availed of the service. The following testimonials will give you some insight into their journey with us.
“I begin my journey in FAST on 6th of March 2017. I had recently completed a residential rehab programme in St James Camino Enfield County Meath. I was homeless when I completed my rehab and I was living in a recovery house. It was the policy of the recovery house that those living there attend a day programme to provide structure and support to those who had recently left treatment. Counselling and joining an aftercare group were also recommended as another means of support.
I had just come out of treatment after relapsing after some time living substance free and it had nearly cost me my life. So, I was willing to do whatever it took to safeguard my recovery. I asked around about possible aftercare groups that were available. I heard through word of mouth from other people in recovery that the aftercare group being ran by FAST was a good group. So, I decided to make enquiries to see if it would be possible to join this group.
On 6th March 2017 I attended my first aftercare group. I was nervous as I was the newest member in the group and didn’t know anyone that well. However, I was made feel welcome by the group participants and facilitators Andy and Loraine. I remember my first group well as I did my introduction and was invited to tell the group about what had brought me to the group and what my story was. I remember I broke down crying and that is exactly how I felt. I felt broken inside from my relapse and the problems I had caused and my life was in ruins. That night I was shown love, compassion and understanding and my first group went well. I felt accepted in it and knew I was in a good group.
I am just under 26 months in recovery now and the problems I arrived with into FAST 2 years ago have one by one been resolved. I now have somewhere to live. I am pursuing a career for myself in social care and studying in university at degree level for this. I have good family support and their complete backing. I have my son back in my life. I have no outstanding legal issues. I am in good health. I have a good support network who continue to help me and support me with my ongoing recovery. I have built healthy relationships. I have made new friends. I have travelled.
FAST has played a huge part in my recovery and helping me achieve all the above. Recovery is like climbing a mountain and you need all the support you can get to break free of active addictions to maintain it and not fall off. My midweek aftercare group was for me a vital part of this support. It was an anchor point on the rock face. Somewhere I could hang on to safely and know I wouldn’t fall off. It was a supportive and safe place to discuss the things I needed to talk about and in this space, I laughed and I cried when I needed to and trusted my group enough to take risks and do the work I needed to do.
One of the things I feel which stood to me was my commitment to the group and to attend every Wednesday. Some weeks I didn’t feel like going but I did, but most weeks I was glad to have my group and the staff for support and never took my place for granted. I realised I was very lucky to be in this group and doing well.
I always felt that FAST was a very well run and professional service. I saw that in the professionalism of my facilitators Andy and Loraine. From the CEO Barbara who always made time to chat to me, to the receptionist Pat and to Mick Williams who is Head of Services in FAST everyone was kind, caring and professional, this was a huge factor in why I kept coming back week after week.
Another dynamic of my aftercare group was the pro social activities which we engaged in, this was a different dimension to the process group work that we did week in week out and was a good source of fun and recreation. I loved that we always got fed too. I have been fortunate that I got to go on the BOBBIO retreat weekend twice which was brilliant and if I were not in this group don’t think I would have done myself. I also did a couple of the overnight trips and hikes to Knockree and the Wicklow Way walk which I also loved. We had many social nights, walks in Howth, rock climbing, Eddie Rockets and Christmas nights.
I liked that roughly every 6 months or so we as a group assisted by staff got to evaluate how the group was functioning. I felt our input was valued and I also felt this process helped to keep the group functioning at its best. Also, once every quarter or so we would do an educational group workshop on a topic that might have been chosen by the group or assigned by the staff team, this was always a good group and I could see its value even though sometimes I’d be reluctant to the education groups at first but I always enjoyed them.
As I said earlier, I started attending the aftercare group in FAST on 6th March 2017. Today as I write this it is 13th March 2019. I have completed my 2 years and I am due to finish and move onto the next phase of my life in recovery. The foundation that I have laid down as a result of the work I have done in my group over the last 2 years has helped me have confidence in myself that I can continue to build on this solid foundation the life that I want and deserve for myself. I will be forever grateful to my group members, those that have come and gone and those that have stayed. To Andy, Loraine, Mick, Barbara, Sheila, Eda and Pat and all at FAST. I will be forever grateful. FAST will always hold a special place in my heart as it has played such an important and pivotal part in helping rebuild my life from the hell that was my reality”.
13th March 2019
“It was a normal Friday morning, the day I collect my dad’s pension, buy my groceries and pay the bills, all of the usual weekly things.
I happened to be passing FAST, I didn’t know a lot about the place, all I really knew was you could go in there for counselling and stuff like that. So I decided I would pop in and see if they could help me in any way because in the last couple of years I had found out my brother was an alcoholic and I had been through hell with him, on and off the drink, in and out of rehab, counsellor’s helpline, even Chuan Mhuire. He had gone back on the drink and I was at my wits end. He wasn’t washing, eating, drinking and had many falls from being drunk. So I had enough, I just thought I will see was there anything there that could help me with the situation I was in with my brother.
I went in and there were two girls on reception, I gave a brief rundown of my brother and what I was going through and all of a sudden I broke down crying like I never did before. They went in and got this man and he brought me to somewhere like a tea room, where I sobbed uncontrollably telling him how much I couldn’t take anymore and I just didn’t know where to turn. I now know he must have been a counsellor. He explained to me I cannot solve my brothers problems, my brother is the only one who can solve his problem and change his life. He asked me if I would like to do counselling for a while, it was only then I realised how wrapped up in my brother’s life and problems I was. After 3 and a half years, I realised how much it had affected my life for the worst.
So I have been attending counselling with a lovely girl counsellor called Linda and she is amazing. Linda is that special friend you can trust, she doesn’t judge, comment or take sides. She listens and lets you open up your heart and gives you that time you need to make you feel you’re not rushing because the normal people in your life are so busy doing their everyday thing, it’s not their fault, it is just the way life is and the problems you have don’t seem that big anymore. She is one special person.
For myself, FAST is a life saver. When you walk through the door the clouds are dark and grey, but when you walk out, the sun is always shining.
Thank god for the people of FAST, I wouldn’t make it throughout the storm days without you all.
P.S. Thank you Linda!