Profile – Andrew Zapletal

Job: Outreach substance misuse worker, Broadway
homelessness charity, London.

How long in the job? Five years.

Best training ever done:
I have never found short courses
valuable. Training is no substitute for a good education. I am
doing an MSc at Imperial College, London in drug/alcohol
evidence-Newsbased policy, which is very good.

My worst interview experience was:
Being formally
interviewed by colleagues for a job I had done for more than a
year. I had to stop myself saying things like: “What are you asking
me that for, you have seen me work?”

The single most inspiring person I have met during my
career was:
A recovering addict with 18 years’ clean time,
(no fags, no booze, no nothing, a very spiritual geezer).

Me and my career: I work with hard-to-reach
people, mainly rough sleepers who misuse drugs and alcohol and have
long-term mental illness. I go out onto the streets on outreach
night shifts. I work in day centres and do keyworking. I refer
clients onto hostels, detox and rehab. Clients lead chaotic lives.
Some move on, some you see again and again. I don’t like spending
more time on the computer than working with clients. The clients
aren’t a problem. I know what to expect – they drink, take drugs,
beg and steal – and how to deal with it. Colleagues, managers and
funders are more unpredictable. What works varies according to the
client’s needs. For some people in dire circumstances, going to
prison will save their lives.

Curriculum Vitae

2001-current: Broadway, outreach worker, substance

2000-1: Phoenix House, outreach worker, substance

1997-2000: Looked after his kids while partner

1992-7: Lambeth Council, drugs liaison

1992-7: Home Office drugs prevention initiative,
managed relapse prevention groups.

1990-2: Stockwell Project, drugs/housing advice

1990: Nacro, supported housing officer, young

All jobs have been based in London.

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