Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP)

Scottish Drugs Forum's award-winning Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP) is a unique initiative which supports, trains, and prepares individuals with a history of problematic drug and alcohol use to work in Social Care.

About the Project

Scottish Drugs Forum’s award-winning Addiction Worker Training Project (AWTP) is a unique initiative which supports, trains, and prepares individuals with a history of problematic drug and alcohol use to work in Social Care.

Launched in 2004 to help former drug users prepare for employment in social care through in-work placements and formal learning, AWTP is the first project in Scotland to:

  • offer former drug and alcohol users the opportunity to gain supported work experience and a qualification whilst receiving a wage for the duration of the course
  • develop a multi-agency approach to employability for former substance users.

Scottish Drugs Forum works in partnership with accredited learning providers and alongside Drug and Alcohol Services throughout Glasgow to provide the training for the students, who include former homeless people and ex-offenders who have previously experienced multiple barriers to employment.

  The Project received a major boost thanks to nearly £600,000 in Big Lottery Fund Scotland grant support in May 2012.  This is helping to develop the Project through extending it into the East of Scotland, increasing the number of Glasgow based trainees and securing staff funding for three years. lottery-logo-2011.jpg




In order to apply to join the course, applicants must be at least two years’ free from:

  • illicit drug use
  • substitute prescribing
  • problematic alcohol use

AWTP always attracts many more applications than there are available places.  An average of three of Scottish Drugs Forum’s User Involvement peer research volunteers move onto AWTP per year.

“The AWTP has been really good for my confidence and self belief.  It’s provided me with the skills to progress into further work. Until now this had been a big worry – I’m forever grateful.”

AWTP graduate 2012

What trainees learn

The course involves former service users undertaking up to 50 weeks training, which includes the placements with treatment agencies. The aim is to complete SVQ Level 2 (and, in some years, Level 3) Health and Social Care.

Trainees learn about topics such as:

  • communication
  • record-keeping
  • confidentiality issues
  • health and safety
  • supporting people
  • personal and professional boundaries
  • Hepatitis C
  • Naloxone administration
  • mental health
  • suicide prevention 

Key to the success of the project is the work of Scottish Drugs Forum’s AWTP Co-ordinator who provides intensive  support on practical issues, such as study and placement related issues, as well as pastoral guidance to help trainees with personal issues which may arise during their study period.

This is a crucial aspect of the Project since many of life circumstances affecting trainees and their families may continue to impact on them even though the trainees have moved on from their individual problematic drug and alcohol use.

“I loved it for all areas of my life – it built my self esteem, changed my identity and built my confidence and courage, particularly in my personal life. I feel fortunate”
AWTP graduate 2012


The AWTP has won two major awards in a prestigious Scottish newspaper social care awards scheme, winning the Best Practice Initiative of the Year and being commended in the Education Initiative of the Year category of the inaugural Herald Society Awards in 2008.

In 2013, AWTP was a finalist in the Investigating in the Workforce category of the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) Care Awards.


Inaugural supporters for the project were Big Lottery Fund Scotland, Greater Glasgow Drug Action Team, The Robertson Trust and Scottish Enterprise Glasgow.

Funders for the 2013/14 course are Big Lottery Scotland, The Robertson Trust, Glasgow City Council Integrated Grants Fund and Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP).  Mid & East Lothian ADP and West Lothian Tobacco, Alcohol and Druy Partnership (TADP) will each fund a trainee for the 2014/15 East of Scotland intake.

Community Jobs Scotland Fund and Glasgow City Council have contributed to the funding for the 2012-13 cohort, in addition to the Project's single biggest injection of funding - £596,141 - coming from Big Lottery Fund Scotland in May 2012.

The following organisations have also provided invaluable placement experiences for trainees: 

  • The Mungo Foundation
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health
  • Turning Point Scotland
  • Crossreach
  • Blue Triangle Housing Association
  • Addaction Scotland
  • New Horizon
  • Phoenix Futures.

“I have had the training and support which has made me a good worker... I know I have potential and I have confidence in my abilities and it’s all thanks to SDF staff and the AWTP”
AWTP graduate 2012

Annual completion ceremony

Each year Scottish Drugs Forum hosts a ceremony to mark the trainees’ successful completion of their studies. This event, attended by families and friends as well as placement providers and SVQ providers, is a celebration of the remarkable achievements of the trainees.

Roseanna Cunningham, MSP, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, attended the 2012 and 2013 ceremonies to present each trainee with Completion Certificates and gave encouragement and praise for their achievements.

At the 2013 event, Ms Cunningham said:

“You’ve all worked hard to turn your lives around, to get this important qualification that will help you to secure a job and cement long term recovery.

“This is an occasion when pride is absolutely justified – pride in yourselves as individuals and the pride your family and close friends feel in you is absolute justified.

“I hope you take that away from today and continue to feel that because that pride in yourself and in your close family members is going to fuel your next steps; your steps into employment, your work and in what you then start giving back to a wider community.”

In 2009 and 2010, the former Minister for Community Safety, Fergus Ewing, also personally presented each graduating trainee with Completion Certificates and in 2011, he sent this congratulatory message to the latest tranche to complete:

“You are all an inspiration and demonstrate what can be achieved with the right kind of support. No strategy, nor amount of money, nor politician, can do what you have done to get to this point.  Because it is you and you alone that decided ‘I want something better’, ‘I want to make a difference’ and ‘I want to be an individual not a statistic’.  Congratulations to you all.”
Fergus Ewing MSP, former Minister for Community Safety

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