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Friday 24th June 2011

SMART students celebrate a life free from drug and alcohol problems at graduation ceremony


On Friday 24th June 2011 a group of students will be celebrating their graduation at a college in Oxford.  However these students have more than most to celebrate; they not only have a new qualification and a better chance of finding work, but also a life free from drugs or alcohol problems.

The graduating students all attended the Portal Programme, a 12 week course run by SMART in conjunction with Oxford & Cherwell Valley College.  The course offers disadvantaged adults the chance to learn skills to improve their chances of getting back into work.   Students completing the course also finish with qualifications from Open College Network South East Region (OCNSER) and City & Guilds. 

More than 30 students completed the course this year.    To date our Portal Programmes we have helped over 400 individuals gain certificates of learning:

  • More than 100 Portal Programme graduates have gone on to full-time employment directly from the course.
  • Over 60 graduates have gone on to become volunteer mentors with SMART.
  • Close to 60 graduates have gone directly on to further education.
  • 16 Portal Programme graduates and volunteer mentors have become SMART employees.

SMART’s Portal Programme, our volunteer mentor scheme, and other such initiatives will be a vital part of the government’s back-to-work programmes as they support individuals with traditionally long histories of unemployment.  Having a job also increases a person’s chances of staying off drugs and rebuilding their lives.  SMART will be developing more opportunities like these in the coming months; opportunities that support people to become substance free, learn new skills, improve their confidence and find employment.

Darren Worthington, SMART CEO says “The SMART Portal Programme and initiatives like it are vitally important to the future success of the people we work with.  Having a job is proven to significantly increase a person’s chances of staying clean and we believe the Portal Programme is a major step in helping people to achieve this aim. As important as the skills acquired is the confidence it gives individuals - who more often than not have long histories of unemployment and/or poor educational backgrounds – in their own abilities to succeed”

Frances Moody, Programme Manager, Skills for Life at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College says,

“Working with the SMART students has been one of the most rewarding teaching jobs I have ever done; it is great to see the learners get their lives back on track.”

SMART is proud to celebrate its students success at the graduation ceremony where the students will have the opportunity to celebrate with their family and friends and be presented with their certificates. 


The Portal Programme is part of a wider service run my SMART for people in Oxfordshire who are experiencing problems caused by drinking or drug taking.   We work with people who need support getting into recovery as well as helping families and friends effected by their loved ones substance misuse .

Anyone interested in finding out more about how SMART’s local recovery support services can: