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Project information

CrossReach Sunflower Garden Project

Alcohol and drug misuse is a big problem in Scotland and it is getting bigger. Children in families affected by substance use often remain unseen and unheard. CrossReach Sunflower Garden Project exists for them - a safe haven to express their feelings and receive support from trained professionals.

January 2018 - December 2018

Charity information: CrossReach (Church of Scotland Social Care Council)

CrossReach (Church of Scotland Social Care Council) logo
  • Need


    There are an estimated 40-60,000 children in Scotland affected by drug misuse in the family and 80-100,000 by alcohol misuse. In Edinburgh alone, there are roughly 7,000 children who live with parents with at least one level of problematic alcohol use and a minimum 2,173 who are affected by parental drug use.
    Children of such parents are often bewildered, confused, upset and frightened by their parents' actions. They may also sustain abuse and neglect and experience social isolation and stigma.


    CrossReach Sunflower Garden Project will hold group and 1-to-1 therapeutic sessions specifically designed to meet the needs of children and young people affected by problematic parental alcohol or drug use.
    By attending a group session, a child can suddenly discover that there are others with similar experiences, thus reducing their burden of shame and guilt. What happens then is that they begin to express and explore their distressing thoughts and feelings and to develop ways of coping.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Improving emotional and mental health


    » The project operates from a self-contained house in the centre of Edinburgh, a safe place for children to escape the emotional chaos of their lives.
    » Provide 1-to-1 or group therapy sessions as appropriate to allow children to express their emotions and develop coping strategies.

    What success will look like

    Success will be if at least 18 children and young people report clinically measurable improvement in their emotions and behaviour at the end of their therapy.

    Aim 2

    Reducing isolation


    » By coming together in a small group, children can realise for the first time that they are not alone in their situation.
    » Where group activities are not appropriate, 1-to-1 sessions allow a child to share privately his or her loneliness with a trusted support worker.

    What success will look like

    Success will be evidenced by children's participation in group activities whereas before they may have been aloof and withdrawn. In 1-to-1 work, trust and confidence in staff.

    Aim 3

    Supporting vulnerable people


    » Volunteer Journey Buddies escort the children to and from the centre by taxi, ensuring that they remain safe at all times.

    What success will look like

    All 18 children attend regularly and strike up a rapport with their Journey Buddy so that the journey becomes part of the therapy.

  • Impact


    In 2013/14 in Scotland, parental alcohol/drug misuse was a contributory factor in 27% of all child protection case conferences.
    A key long-term change is that the Project will use the gathered evidence from the work undertaken to ensure that the child's voice is heard and properly represented in child planning meetings, children's hearings and in looked-after and accommodated persons review meetings. There will also be engagement with named persons, lead professionals and social workers


    The key risk to the success of this project is that Sunflower Garden, as a free service, is struggling to accommodate all the referrals we receive. We can mitigate this by being flexible in the make up of the size and age ranges of the groups and by offering outreach support for those on the waiting list.


    We will interpret and share the aggregated results of our clinical questionnaires with donors. We will also share real life stories from the children and young people, their parents and carers who we support.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £19,304

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £5,313 Staff cost 1 Children's Worker to deliver the project @ 7.5 hours a week
      £4,248 Staff cost 1 Senior Project Worker to provide oversight @ 5 hours a week
      £515 Staff cost Admin support
      £1,200 Training Training of volunteers (journey buddies and group assistant)
      £4,428 Transport Safe transport by taxi and bus to and from centre
      £3,060 Premises costs Provision of building in centre of Edinburgh
      £540 Materials Art and Activity Materials for theraplay
  • Background


    The project is located in an iconic building in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town. Simpson House on Queen Street was the home of Dr James Simpson from 1845 to 1870. It was here that Dr Simpson discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform which revolutionised surgical processes. The Simpson family gifted the townhouse to the Church of Scotland in 1916 and it continues to this day to be a focus of healing and recovery.


    The project will benefit 18 children aged between 7 and 18 who are affected by substance use in their families. They are often frightened, bewildered, angry and despairing from what they have experienced in their lives, and are blameless. Many no longer live with their birth parents and are looked after by foster parents or are in care. The majority of referrals received by Sunflower Garden are from the Pilton, Muirhouse and Wester Hailes districts of Edinburgh, areas of multiple deprivation.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    CrossReach has existed since 1869 and is now one of the largest third sector providers of social care in Scotland. Right from the start, we have responded to changing needs in society and we continue to do so today.
    We have always been there for the vulnerable of Scotland in times of crisis but we know that for lasting change to happen, it is necessary to tackle problems before they become crises. That's why the work of this project with children as young as 7 is so important.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Radek Staromlynski

    Radek is the Children's Worker. He runs the project, prepares and delivers the therapeutic programme and supports the children and their families.

    Kirsty Dean

    Kirsty is the Senior Project Worker. She oversees the running of the project, line manages the Children's Worker and Volunteers, and manages referrals


    A number of volunteers perform the role of Group Assistant. They aid the Children's Worker in running the groups and prepare snacks and activities.


    A number of volunteers perform the role of Journey Buddy. They collect the children in taxis, escort them to the project, and then home again after.