South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse presided over a graduation with a difference at the Scottish Parliament last week.
As Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Mr Wheelhouse presented certificates to former drug and alcohol users who successfully completed an award winning and unique training project.
The Scottish Drugs Forum’s Addiction Worker Training Project is the first project in Scotland to train, support and prepare individuals with a history of problem drug or alcohol use to gain qualifications and subsequently work in social care.
Trainees are employed by the drugs forum, and complete an SVQ Level II in Social Services and Healthcare while carrying out placements in local agencies. They receive a weekly wage and an intensive package of personalised support. Since 2004, out of the 149 people who started on the course, 135 completed it and 117 went into work - the majority to full time jobs in the social care field.
For the first time this year, Scottish Borders Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) is funding a place and applications are currently being invited from individuals in the Borders who meet the criteria for the project.
At the graduation event Mr Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Drugs Forum is doing excellent work through their Addiction Worker Training Project, and it is an honour for me to be involved in the graduation ceremony.”