Meet the Team: Learning Centre

Lynne Macdonald

Lynne has worked at SDF for 3 and a half years and is currently Training and Development Officer with the SDF Learning Centre. Lynne leads on the development and delivery of the Enhanced Skills Programme, which has been developed to supplement the Social Services and Healthcare SVQs available with the SDF Learning Centre.


What led you to working in this role?

I began working in this sector in 1996 as a Youth Development Worker in Dumfries and Galloway. After moving to the Central Belt, in 2002, I worked in services in Edinburgh, initially in housing support. This led me to finding my passion for supporting people who were using drugs and alcohol.

I held various roles in drug and alcohol services before moving to Scottish Drugs Forum in 2018, where I worked as Co-ordination and Development Officer with the Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP). This was a brilliant role, where I had the opportunity to support people with lived experience to work in social care. I then moved over to SDF’s Learning Centre, in the summer of 2021.

I still work closely with AWTP trainees, as part of my new role includes SVQ Assessing. I am also a trainer, so I have the chance to work with every learner who comes to the SDF Learning Centre to achieve their SVQ Qualification.

What approach do you take to your work?

The quality of what we do is most important to me, so I’m always keen to hear the participant’s experience at every stage of their engagement with us.

Employers tell us that sometimes SVQ delivery can be too generic and in response we’ve adapted our Social Services and Healthcare input. Outside of the health and social care umbrella, there isn’t currently a specialist practice-based qualification for the drug and alcohol sector and we want to make sure that, in the meantime, what we offer is meeting that need.

Being flexible to the learner’s needs is also very high on my agenda.  Many people come to us with additional support and development needs, and we do everything we can to support people to engage in every stage of their SVQ award.

What characteristics should be most prevalent in someone delivering a course like this?

Having a friendly, supportive, and consistent approach are some of the most important characteristics required when working in this role. It’s important that I build up a good working relationship with our SVQ Candidates, and that they find me relatable.

My experience of working in services really helps – as I have actually done the jobs our candidates are doing – meaning that I have a working knowledge of the types of situations they can use for their SVQ Evidence, and an understanding of any challenges they are facing.

I would also add patience to the list. People learn in different ways and it’s about finding the way that works for each individual person, no matter how much support they may require.

Having a good sense of humour always helps too …

What makes the Learning Centre unique?

The unique part of choosing a qualification with the SDF Learning Centre, is the chance to work with an organisation and team that shares the experiences, values and perspectives of the drug and alcohol field.

We’re also in a unique position, as part of Workforce Development in SDF, to support the wider strategic work of that team, providing another route to continued service improvement and quality, in the delivery of vocational qualifications to the drug and alcohol workforce.

The other thing that makes us unique, as far as training, learning and development, is that we are the first organisation in the UK to be awarded dual endorsements of quality assurance by Skills for Health – we received their Quality Marks for training and e-learning last year – which provide learners and employers with an added measure of confidence in working with us.

What does the enhanced skills programme involve?

An SVQ in Social Services and Healthcare covers all areas of health and care – from being a home carer to working in a care home, through to working in drug and alcohol services or other services where many people accessing support may also use drugs.

Candidates get access to a range of sessions that meet the knowledge requirements for the SVQ as standard, but the Enhanced Skills Package includes a programme of additional training, some of which has been adapted from our Core Workforce Development Programme to complement the SVQ.

Participants get to work through sessions on Professional Boundaries, Trauma and Substance Use, Stigma, and Enhancing Core Communication Skills, and they get to do this while sharing their SVQ journey together.

These areas are very relevant to drug and alcohol professionals and offer a deeper insight into the areas the people they are supporting are affected by.

A key aim of the SDF Learning Centre is to expand the range of qualifications we offer and deliver them in a similar way.

We’ve also got longer-term aspirations to develop and deliver customised practice and leadership courses for the field. Ultimately, we want the Learning Centre to become a key resource to the drug and alcohol workforce, supplementing the excellent quality assured training and e-learning already available in SDF.

What do you like most about your job?

I love working for SDF, and training people who are working in drug and alcohol services.

I really enjoy delivering the range of training that’s available through the SDF Learning Centre.  I’m a ‘people person’, so I love this interaction, and this is where I really get to know the candidates.

Several of the people I work with come with their own lived experience, and it’s an honour to support them through this part of their journey as they move on to work in services and gain qualifications.

Many of the candidates I work with never completed school, and have no qualifications, and it’s a privilege to be the person that supports them to gain their SVQ.

The best thing for me is watching everyone grow in confidence as they gain more knowledge and start to believe that they can achieve their qualification. It’s as proud a day for me, as it is for them, when they complete their award.