To become a volunteer support & recovery worker with SUIT, individuals must live in Wolverhampton and access drug or alcohol services, or have done so in the last 6 months. You must be illicit substance (if your issue was with illicit substances), or alcohol free (if your issue was with alcohol). This criteria is in place so that those who have been directly affected by substance misuse (i.e. personally), are given the opportunity to develop their skills, give something back and contribute positively to society. They act as role models to those that aren't as far into their recovery as they are. This also allows SUIT to offer a level of peer support that is unsurpassed and directly benefits the user of our service.
We have a comprehensive volunteer package that provides all the necessary opportunities for volunteers to progress personally and professionally. This includes a Health & Safety Induction, In House Training (covering national overview, strategy, project background, policies and procedures, advice and guidance etc.)
We immediately assess training and competence needs and match relevant courses based on individual need. Each new volunteer is matched to a ‘buddy’ who basically shows them the ropes and supports them throughout their involvement, particularly within their probationary period.
Our volunteers typically undertake functional skills qualifications and focus on particular subject areas realted to their role, as well as personal interests (e.g. Powerpoint, Publisher, Database etc.) Alongside this, volunteers are encouraged to undertake vocational training, which in essence brings their learning to their work environment. The most popular and relevent courses are things like - NVQ Level 3/4 in Advice & Guidance, NVQ Level 3/4 in Health & Social Care, Mentoring and Counselling Level 2/3/4. SUIT have do date sourced funding of nearly £500,000 so that there is no direct cost to the volunteer or service and the volunteer gains real qualification that inch them closer to the employment market.
Work is mapped to current DANOS (Drug and Alcohol National Occupational Standards) and this is updated daily by volunteers and checked regularly through supervision.
Supervision takes place monthly for the first three months and then quarterly thereafter. Volunteers have a chance to feedback on their involvement and are given tasks to achieve to maximise their involvement.
We have adopted an outcome star model that cpatures change with volunteers. This is a self scoring system that is a useful, and visual way of measuring change. We use this within the contract monitoring element of our service.
Volunteers work within the following work streams, but are not bound by them -:
- Social media & marketing
- Advice & guidance
- Recovery Support
- Case Management
- Advocacy and Peer Support
- Meet and Greet
- Promotion of SUIT
By having a structured and supported volunteer programme, volunteers get the maximum out of their involvement. Vocational training, practical experience, competency mapping, regular supervision and ongoing motivational support ultimately enable volunteer to develop their skills and edge closer to the employment market. SUIT have seen great success in volunteers gaining full time, sustainable employment. Service users also benefit from this type of approach with a total of 53 people finding employment having been in contact with us, since January 2012.
One example is Mr A (not his real name). Mr A was a habitual, injecting drug user and career criminal. Upon relaese from his most recent spell in Prison (which in total amounts to 25 years), SUIT offered his the opportunity to give back to society. He excelled in offering an exceptionally high level of peer support orientated service. He undertook a teaching qualification, various other courses (Counselling Levels 1 & 2, Peer Mentoring Level 2, Advice and Guidance Levels 3 & 4) and after 23 months of dedication and hard work was offered a full time, permanent, paid postion as a Family Co-ordinator.