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Training Fund: Drugs Awareness Training

Training Fund: Drugs Awareness Training

Training Fund: Drugs Awareness Training

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Lisa Mould, a Peer Mentor Coordinator at Concrete, fed back to us about the Drugs Awareness training she was able to attend thanks to a Training Fund grant.

Concrete, part of Honeycomb Group, is a charitable service that supports people who have faced homelessness. The service supports a wide range of people – men, women and young people – in a variety of different ways. This includes supported accommodation at 24/7 staffed schemes, specialised LGBTQ+ support, tenancy guidance to help people manage their homes and support to find accommodation while battling psychoactive substance addiction. 

Concrete also provides peer mentoring opportunities, both for clients of Concrete to receive peer support from a mentor, and for former clients to become mentors, helping them on their development journeys.

Lisa’s team received drug awareness training, delivered over two days in December 2023. 

The training was delivered primarily to peer mentors, but extra spaces meant that Concrete were able to extend it to their SPHERE team (Concrete’s substance misuse service) and some of their Service Coordinators. 

"For our mentors particularly, which is the service I oversee, they will all at some stage, or perhaps already have, encounter customers with substance misuse. I wanted them to feel equipped with the skills and specialist knowledge to feel empowered to provide support to these customers if the need arose. Mentors never work fully alone, they always have the support of our frontline teams, but it’s important that they have these extra skills in their toolkits."

Many mentors at Concrete have their own lived experience, and are already quite knowledgeable on substances and the effects. However, the training they attended enabled them to explore this in much more detail.

"Our trainer, Kevin, was fantastic, and really got into the nitty gritty with them. They covered the impact of addiction, the chemical reactions in your brain, how it effects people and then how to work with customers experiencing this."

For Lisa, one huge benefit of attending the training was that is was able to be adapted to Concrete's local area of Stoke-on-Trent.

"Here in Stoke-on-Trent we see a lot of monkey dust usage. The drug is quite isolated to our city, but the trainer was very responsive to our mentors’ questions about it. He was really open to the training being led by attendees, and made sure we all knew that there was no such thing as a stupid question."

Another benefit was that the small group size meant that everyone had the chance to take part and speak up.

Being able to access this training has meant that Concrete's team are better able to support the people they work with. The knowledge and skills they gained have enabled better outcomes for their clients.

"It’s already had a brilliant impact. One of our mentors was recently out in the city centre, not on duty as a mentor. She saw a customer she had worked with and was able to recognise that she was under the influence. She felt confident enough to call me and suggest helping her get to safety. I did all the right checks with the customer’s support provider and checked the mentor was OK, which she was, so she went ahead and got the customer to safety.

I had some great verbal feedback too, with mentors telling me that it opened their eyes to things they didn’t realise, and how it built on their existing knowledge from lived experience. They all came away feeling like they had learned loads,’ and it’s all thanks to the trainer's expertise."

The availability of the Training Fund meant that Lisa's team were able to access information and skills that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to. The two-day course was hugely beneficial for the team, and accessing the grant was a simple process.

"The process of securing funding was great and really straightforward. Without the funding we wouldn’t have been able to take part in the training, which went on to be a really valuable resource for us. We gain bits of knowledge here and there from other places, but dedicating the time over two days to take part in a course was invaluable for us all."

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