Celebrations at East of Scotland AWTP completion ceremony in Edinburgh

Ten graduates from the Scottish Drugs Forum’s award-winning Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP) celebrated their achievements at a completion ceremony in Edinburgh yesterday (Thursday 25th of May).

The event marked another celebratory year for the unique AWTP, which supports, trains, and prepares people with a history of problematic drug or alcohol use to work in social care.

View photos from the day here >>>

The trainees, three from Edinburgh, three from West Lothian, three from Fife and one from the Borders, were presented with certificates by John Finnie MSP.  Seven of the graduates so far have al-ready 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 care services they are placed in, and their shared life experiences with service users can help foster trust and a rapport that supports treatment.

Welcoming the attendees to the event, David Liddell, SDF Chief Executive Officer, said:

“I am pleased to see friends, family members and colleagues attending this completion ceremony and to be able to welcome them on behalf of Scottish Drugs Forum and our partners in the Addiction Worker Training Project.

“I have had the good fortune to attend numerous completion ceremonies. It is always encouraging to see the impact of the programme both on participants and on services. The organisations providing placements and those ultimately employing AWTP participants often comment on the commitment and drive shown by participants who are highly motivated and engaged. Improving services in social care generally and in drug treatment and support, in particular, is a key outcome of this work.

“I congratulate the trainees on the hard work and dedication they have shown to complete the course, and also extend our appreciation to our delivery and funding partners, without whom, none of this would be possible.”

Since 2004, over 200 people have started the AWTP course – 90% have completed and achieved SVQ Qualifications in Social Services and Healthcare. Over 85% of Graduates have continued work, the majority securing full-time jobs in the health and social care field.

Guest speakers at Wednesday’s event included Kirsten, who graduated from the Addiction  Worker Training Project in 2016. Kirsten applied because she wanted to return to employment and was particularly interested in working in the social care field.

“The AWTP is an amazing project, showing that there truly is life and a future after addiction.”

Kirsten carried out two four-month placements whilst on the project, with Fife Intensive Rehabilitation and Substance Misuse Team (FIRST) and DAPL, a counselling service for people who have substance use problems, both in Fife. Upon graduating she started work as a support worker with FIRST.

“I love my job! I work one-to-one with clients and also run a woman’s group. I am also currently doing my SVQ3, so that I can become a rehabilitation worker. The sky is the limit, and I know now I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I’m in control of my life now.”

John Finnie MSP and Co-convener of the Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Drug and Alcohol Misuse said:

“The Scottish Drugs Forum Addiction Worker Training Project has been pivotal in supporting over 200 people with a history of drug or alcohol problems into employment, with many now helping to deliver the support services they once used.

“Having a drug or alcohol problem can leave individuals with significant barriers to employment. These can take the form of a lack of previous employment history, little or no formal qualifications, or indeed the confidence to apply in the first place.

“The AWTP provides the ideal platform for people to take the first steps towards a fulfilling career, through paid training and via placements in social care services. The intensive package of support that each trainee receives has yielded high results, with over 85% of trainees achieving employment after completion.

“This, of course, comes at a cost; however the benefits to the individuals involved and society as a whole are clear to see. 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 drug-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 ten 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 East of Scotland project this year has come from the Big Lottery Fund, The Robertson Trust, The Henry Smith Charity and Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership.

April Adam, Chair of Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP), a commissioner of the project, said:

“Fife ADP has supported the AWTP Programme for a number of years now, as have our local substance misuse services by providing placements. Fife ADP believe that by doing this they are spending money wisely and can see the huge benefits for the trainees, their families and our local services and communities.

“This Project does, without doubt, make a huge difference to people’s lives and should be supported”

Scottish Drugs Forum congratulates all the graduates for their hard work and wishes them good luck with the future.