The LLC Recovery College s training volunteers to run courses and provide peer support to people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
Drug and alcohol addiction can have a devastating effect on the lives of individuals. However becoming free of an addiction is only part of the challenge. People also need to recover what has been destroyed – their self-confidence, memory and cognitive skills, as well as the ability to rebuild their lives and move on.
The LLC Recovery College, a social enterprise run by LLC Consultancy CIC, seeks to support individuals in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction by offering learning opportunities through courses, peer support and tutor support. The aim is to help people to improve their well-being, confidence, skills and knowledge in order to enhance their employability. One course in Buckinghamshire, accredited by OCN London, has trained volunteers – all former drug and alcohol users themselves who have also attended the course – to advise people with similar problems on where to get help from local services. Drawing on this experience the College has developed a further course that teaches people the essential skills that are needed to get a volunteering post and, ultimately, a paid job. The course also offers learners the opportunity to understand and address issues that prevent them from moving on, focusing on managing stress, developing coping strategies, building self confidence and creating a personal career plan. Those who complete the course successfully gain the OCNLR Award in Progression.
The original intention was to make best use of scarce resources by cutting down teacher time and putting the course materials and assessments online. The students would be assisted in their self-study by the mentors and tutors via Skype and phone tutorials. However, when piloting the course, is was evident that poor IT computer skills, combined with lack of access to computers and WiFi at home, limited time, low self-esteem and very rusty study skills made this impossible. So the decision was made to offer additional weekly face-to-face tutorials with the teacher using the IT facilities at the local library. This provided an opportunity for people to learn essential computer skills. Participants from previous courses were used as mentors to assist the learners with accessing resources online and completing the assessments.
As expected, not all participants completed the course and gained the award. But six out of the initial 12 achieved the full OCNLR Award. Those who did not complete the course did so for various reasons. One was offered a post as a recovery champion, another had a family bereavement and some were unable to find the time for writing assignments.
The feedback was very positive. Participants were able to address their personal issues, improve their time management and reduce levels of stress. One learner said that writing assignments for people in recovery helped to train their drug damaged brains to do cognitive work again. Successful outcomes included remaining clear of substance abuse, gaining stable housing, attending regularly, starting further education, getting paid work, or simply gaining self confidence.
Even those who did not complete the course were positive about the learning experience. One said: “It’s made me look at my personal skills which I thought were non-existent.”
Future plans are to revise the Recovery Skills course and also to offer educational courses that open up pathways of employment for participants beyond the drug and alcohol field. Relevant training and achieving a certificate in health and social care is recommended for getting employment in any of these areas. A new course Pathways into Employment in Health and Social Care will combine existing units from a community advocacy course with the OCN London Certificate in Skills for Professions in Health and Social Care.