Groups await verdicts on launch bids for drug misuse work projects

Organisations hoping to run the specialist support part of the
government’s campaign to help drug misusers back into employment
are due to find out this month whether their bids have been

government began tendering for organisations to run the specialist
support part of the progress2work initiative in August. The scheme
is the responsibility of the Employment Service. Interested
organisations such as drugs misuse agencies and training groups
were invited to bid.

Thousands of drug misusers could be helped into work by the scheme,
which is to start in March 2002. Thirty areas have been selected
for the initial stage of the project in March, 60 for 2003, and the
rest of England, Wales and Scotland the year after. Progress2work
will be funded to the tune of £40m over the three years.

the next two years drug co-ordinators will be placed in every
Employment Service unit of delivery. Their role will be to help
drug users coming out of treatment to get access to services to
help them on the road to employment. They will also ensure that any
job seekers with drug problems are referred for appropriate

The drug
co-ordinators will set up action plans with the drug action teams
to address any gaps in provision and train front-line staff in how
to recognise drug misuse.

at the DrugScope conference last week, Mike Stewart, director of
the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, said that while
participation in the scheme was voluntary and targeted at
individuals with a history of drug abuse, he expected 20 per cent
to find jobs.

“If it
is seen as successful then it can be extended to other hard-to-help
groups,” said Stewart.

projects were set up last spring to test different models of
delivery in Glasgow, Liverpool, Plymouth, Stevenage and two in
London, and participants have been tracked quarterly. Findings show
that many drug misusers drop out during the early stages but often
return to the projects.

McCarron, co-ordinator of greater Glasgow drug action team, said
the pilot in Glasgow had been a success. More than 100 former drug
misusers have moved into jobs over the last year.

we’re aiming at during the next year is to see 1,000 ex-drug users
actively taking up opportunities in progress2work,” said McCarron.
“It is the most important policy initiative available, which we
must make work.”

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