Twelve graduates from the Scottish Drugs Forum’s award-winning Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP) celebrated their achievements at a completion ceremony at the Lighthouse in Glasgow on Tuesday (21st of March).
The event marked another celebratory year for the unique AWTP, which supports, trains, and prepares individuals with a history of problematic drug or alcohol use to work in social care.
The trainees, ten from Glasgow, one from Inverclyde and one from Renfrewshire, were presented with certificates by Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central. Nine of the graduates so far have already moved into employment as a result of the project.
Trainees are employed by Scottish Drugs Forum while carrying out placements in local agencies. The trainees frequently bring a new drive of enthusiasm to the services they are placed in, and their shared life experiences with service users can help foster trust and a rapport that supports treatment.
Since 2004, over 200 people have started the course, 90% have completed it and 85% continued into work, the majority to full-time jobs in the social care field.
Guest speakers at Wednesday’s event included Nicola, who graduated from the Addiction Worker Training Project in 2016. Nicola applied because she wanted to return to employment and was particularly interested in working in the social care field.
“AWTP has been a life changing experience, it has given me the confidence and self-esteem I needed to begin a career.”
Nicola carried out two six-month placements with Addaction and the NHS Addiction Bentinck Centre, both in Kilmarnock, during her time in the programme. Upon graduating she started work as a direct access worker in Aspire.
“I’ve now secured full-time work in emergency housing and personal development and I love every moment of it!
“Life after addiction is hard. Giving up the drugs is the easy part, rebuilding my life was much more difficult. Since graduating from the AWTP, employers now see me and not my past, they see my knowledge, training and skills and feel I would be an asset. The AWTP has given me my life back.”
Welcoming the attendees to the event, SDF Chief Executive Officer, David Liddell said:
“Every year the graduation ceremony is the culmination of a long journey for trainees. It is a celebration of the hard work and dedication that has been put in by each and every one of you, and it is fitting that your family, friends and colleagues are here to experience the occasion with you.
“The high success rates of the AWTP have once again continued, and we must thank our partner organisations and funders for making these opportunities possible. All SDF staff and stakeholders wish today’s graduates all the very best in the future.”
Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central told the audience:
“The Scottish Drug Forum’s Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP) is an excellent example of how people can recover from a drug or alcohol problem given the right opportunities.
“Those with a history of drug and alcohol problems face significant multiple barriers to employment. Many have little or no employment history and have left school at a young age, with little in the way of formal qualifications.
“The AWTP is a great example of the step up that people need, with paid employment and training. It’s costly to run but the long-term benefits to the trainees and wider society are huge – over 80% of those who complete the programme go into long-term paid employment. Scotland has 61,500 people with a drug problem and we need far more help and assistance to enable people to get into work.”
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport said:
“At the heart of the Scottish Government’s drugs strategy is the concept of recovery, where a person moves on from their problem drug use towards a drugs-free life as an active and contributing member of society. This is clearly illustrated at today’s event, where graduates with a history of drug and alcohol misuse have successfully worked to gain a qualification in social care, a subject which can be used to practically help others.
“I’m inspired by the determination and commitment that all twelve trainees have shown in completing their SVQ in Health and Social Care and wish them all the very best for the future. I also congratulate the Scottish Drugs Forum on the AWTP initiative which is impacting so positively on a number of lives.”
Funding for the West of Scotland project this year has come from Glasgow City Council Integrated Grants Fund, East Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, The Henry Smith Charity, the Big Lottery Fund and Clydesdale Bank following AWTP success at the ‘Spirit of the Community Awards’ in 2016.
Photos from the day will be online soon.