Trainees celebrate starting new careers in helping people with drug and alcohol problems

Twenty three 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 on Wednesday the 30th of May.

The event, sponsored by John Finnie MSP, 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.

The trainees, based in Glasgow (12), Edinburgh (3), Fife (3), Ayrshire (3) and Lanarkshire (2) were presented with certificates by Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport. Eighteen have already moved into employment as a direct result of the project.

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

“It is always pleasing to see family, friends and colleagues come together to celebrate the hard work and commitment that the trainees have shown over the past year. Over the short space of time, trainees grow hugely in confidence as their skill set develops.

“Once again the high success rate of the programme has 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 their new careers.”

AWTP Trainees are employed Scottish Drugs Forum for nine months, and complete an SVQ Level 2 in Social Services and Healthcare while carrying out placements in local services. The trainees frequently bring a new drive of 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.

Guest speakers at Wednesday’s event included Tam Neil, who graduated from the Addiction Worker Training Project in 2015.

“I’m here giving a speech about it today because of the success of the programme. It’s been a great journey, the training and support that you get with the AWTP is second to none. You can’t fault it, and it certainly put me in a position of being employment ready.”

During his time in the programme, Tam carried out two paid work placements with New Horizon, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, and Blue Triangle Housing Association, a charity that provides supported accommodation and where he now works as a full-time employee.

“When I went on placement the first week in I was thinking ‘this isn’t for me’. It was brutal, chaotic and I got loads of cheek. I’ve been there three years now – I love it!”

Before presenting certificates to the graduates, Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, said:

“These 23 people have shown an inspiring determination and commitment to not only overcome substance misuse, but to study for a qualification and move into work where they can help others.

“The Scottish Government is committed to the concept of recovery and a system where people are encouraged and supported to recover and overcome issues with drugs and alcohol. I am also very clear that often the best people to help others are those who have faced the same or similar experiences, and they are also often the best people to help provide decision-makers with guidance.

“I would also like to congratulate the Scottish Drugs Forum on this initiative, which has had such a positive impact on a number of lives.”

This year, the initiative has been funded by a range of partners, including the Big Lottery Fund. Martin Cawley, BLF Director for Scotland told the trainees:

“We are delighted to work in partnership with the Addiction Worker Training Project, thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players.

“The project has a proven track record of helping people to gain new skills and confidence which are important stepping stones to long term employment. Completing this training programme is a hugely significant step in their journey and I wish each and every graduate the very best for the future as they go on to fulfil their ambitions.”

The project is funded annually and has confirmed that funding has been secured to provide the same number of places on the course this year. However, the project is always looking to expand the list of funders so that it can increase the number of life-changing opportunities provided.

If you would like to discuss funding AWTP opportunities in your area, please contact Chris Messenger at or call 0141 221 1175.

To view what current opportunities are available for future trainees, please visit the Jobs in Scotland section of the website or sign up for our eNewsletter for future updates.