AWTP Graduation 2019
Sixteen graduates from the Scottish Drugs Forum’s award-winning Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP) celebrated their achievements at a completion ceremony at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The event, sponsored by John Finnie MSP and opened by Monica Lennon MSP, Co-Conveners of the Cross-Party Group on Drugs and Alcohol, marked another celebratory year for the unique AWTP, which supports, trains, and prepares people with a history of drug and alcohol problems to work in social care.

Those graduating, from Glasgow, Edinburgh, West Lothian, East Ayrshire, Fife and Inverclyde, were presented with certificates by Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing. The majority have already received offers of employment in health and social care as a direct result of the project.

Welcoming the graduands, their families, funders and partner organisations to the event, David Liddell, SDF Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We are grateful once more to be celebrating the hard work of trainees in the Scottish Parliament – a suitably important venue for such an important occasion. For this day is the culmination of all the commitment and effort those graduating have put in over the last nine months.

“Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of funders or placement providers, and we thank them both.

“The high success rates of the project are impressive in terms of people sustaining long-term employment in the care sector. However, it remains challenging to fund the programme despite many parts of Scotland experiencing significant workforce shortages in the social care sector. Investment in this project is not just of value to the individuals’ lives and those of their families, it also has a much wider impact on Scottish society; making it worthy of greater investment from statutory partners.”

Mark, an AWTP trainee from Glasgow who graduated on the day, said:

“Now that I have finished my training, I feel more alive than I have done in a long time. I also feel a little sad, however, because during the nine months with the other SDF trainees we became like a small family.

“Supporting each other with different barriers that might have came up. This has been the best part of my own recovery and would like to thank the SDF staff for everything that they have done, not only for me but for my family and other trainees and their families to.

“It has been a great experience working with everybody and I hope the project continues to help many more people change their lives.”

Guest speakers at Wednesday’s event included Joe Fitzpatrick, Minister for Public Health, who said:

“I would like to congratulate each one of these truly inspiring students. The sheer determination and commitment they have shown in overcoming their substance use and using their own lived experience to go on to help others by studying for this qualification is incredible.

“The Scottish Government wants to build a country where people are encouraged and supported in their recovery journey. As such we are delighted to support the work of the Addiction Worker Training Project which we know has a proven track record of helping people to gain new skills and confidence.

“I would commend the work of the Scottish Drugs Forum on this initiative which has been instrumental in making a huge difference to the lives of many people. I would also like to thank the National Lottery Community Fund, East Ayrshire and Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, Glasgow City Council, the Robertson Trust, the Bank of Scotland Foundation, and the Henry Smith Charity, who through their funding have enabled this initiative.”

This year, the initiative has been funded by a range of partners, including Glasgow City Council’s Integrated Grants Fund. Bernadette Monaghan, Director of Community Empowerment and Equalities, Glasgow City Council, congratulated those graduating and said:

“Well done everyone, your drive and determination is admirable and your success will be a true inspiration to others.

“Your new skills stand you in good stead to be a positive force for change in other people’s lives. You will be great role models for the people you support and can rightly be proud of your achievements.

“This training course has helped many people with lived experience start new careers, and I wish you every success as you move on to the next exciting step of your own journey!”

AWTP Trainees are employed by Scottish Drugs Forum for nine months, and complete an SVQ Level 2 qualification in Social Services and Healthcare while carrying out placements in local services. The trainees frequently bring fresh enthusiasm to the services they are placed in, and their shared life experiences with people who use the services can help foster trust and a rapport that enhances treatment and support.

As well as developing skills and confidence, the trainees also receive a weekly wage from SDF and an intensive package of personalised support.

Since 2004, out of the 249 people who have started on the course, over 90% have completed, with over 85% securing further meaningful employment, the majority to full time jobs in the health and social care field.

The project is funded annually is always looking to expand the list of funders so that it can increase the number of life-changing opportunities provided.
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