Why I love my job – Alan Irving

Why I love my job

Alan Irving is social worker with the drug treatment and testing order team at South Lanarkshire Council.

The best thing about my job is the tangible improvement which is noticeable in so many of the clients we work with.

I’ve been in criminal justice social work for a few years, so when South Lanarkshire set up a multi-disciplinary drug treatment and testing order team I decided to apply. I felt being involved at the start gave me the chance to have some influence in shaping the service as it developed.

A drug treatment and testing order is a community sentence in Scotland, first introduced in 1999. It is for drug-misusing offenders who might otherwise go to prison. The idea is to tackle drug addiction and steer offenders away from crime.  We offer a so-called one stop holistic service of prescribing, drug testing and counselling, delivered by a team of social workers, addiction workers and medical staff.

Many parents, partners and most importantly of all service users say they have turned their lives around after being put on a drug treatment and testing order, during the eighteen months since this project opened. Having a treatment plan with the opportunity to meet with medical staff, counsellors and social workers all under one roof has contributed immensely to their rehabilitation, our service users say. Some even tell us we have saved their lives.

The job means I can share the journey the client makes, from their first meeting in court to the completion of the order. This involves the client making major lifestyle changes, which requires them to re-evaluate everyone and everything they know. Some of the changes such as a marked improvement in physical health are obvious. Equally important are less noticeable changes, including the mending of damaged family relationships.

Together these changes foster gains in self-esteem. It is always gratifying at the end of an order when you reflect upon the progress made. Being a part of a process of positive change in people’s lives is what gives me the biggest buzz about my job.
The team I work with is made up of fantastically caring people who work hard advocating on behalf of clients. I am sure the enthusiasm of the workers rubs off on everyone who walks through our door.

My job is demanding, exciting and fulfilling. I never feel I am becoming stagnant. If I was to give advice to a new worker in my post, I’d say always treat people with dignity and respect, no matter how they present themselves.


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