“I’ve volunteered and worked for SMART in a number of roles since my contact with them as a client. Now I’m a DIP arrest referral worker covering the police cells where I speak to users, offer motivational support, advice, guidance, harm minimisation information and refer them into treatment services. Coming from a using background into a professional situation you can really see all the links in the chain and I have a good understanding of our clients and what they get up to. The basis of all the work we do is about the client and I really like that, plus all the training and support I’m given.
When you make a referral and the client turns up to appointments or when someone gets stable on a script its really rewarding. At other times it can be frustrating when people don’t engage but you try not to dwell on that and hope you can pick people up again once they are ready.
Having lived the life of the people we work with, this feels right. It’s amazing where doing the right thing takes you.”
"I have been involved with SMART for nearly four years - my first contact was when I attended SMART's Access 2* educational programme. This accredited course is set up for ex-drug users who want to develop learning skills. For someone whose classroom experiences were a dim and distant memory, this seemed like an exciting opportunity for me.
Having enjoyed the course, I wanted to stay involved with SMART, even though I had a full-time job. I decided to join SMART's volunteer mentoring scheme. After some training I got the chance to work directly with clients – using my experiences to help and guide them. Every bit of free time which I had was taken up with volunteering – supporting clients, helping SMART staff.
Looking back now – I guess it was a bit like an apprenticeship, as not long after I eventually got a trainee position as a SMART Drug Interventions Programme worker. I worked in this area for eighteen months, before moving into aftercare.
I now work as a Case manager helping clients, who have come off drugs, to seek new directions and opportunities. I find this role very inspiring.
I still have the same energy and enthusiasm I had when I joined SMART's educational programme – and I even fit in time to pursue other goals, one of which includes working voluntarily on community issues.
My own professional and academic journey with SMART has given me great confidence, and I really do see SMART as a place "where things happen".
* - Access 2 has been replaced with the Portal Programme