Westminster Drug Project (WDP) provides the Catalyst and Re-Start drug and alcohol services in the Borough of Barnet. It celebrated National Volunteers’ Week at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley.
Finchley & Golders Green MP Mike Freer paid tribute to the passion and commitment of the volunteers who help people to recover from drug and alcohol dependency at the charity Westminster Drug Project.
He said, “Volunteers do a huge amount of good. Often they can win the confidence of people who need help, and inspire them to change, where others fail.
“Volunteering also breaks down prejudice by bringing people in and giving them insight to people’s lives and how they can be helped, whether the issue is addiction, or HIV, or disability.
“It’s a two way street. I’ve been a volunteer and you get a lot back from it. It can also be very important experience on your CV.”
The MP heard moving accounts from former service users who are now volunteers themselves. Jon (26) explained how he had started using drugs as a way of escape: “Eventually I ended up a dependant opiate user and was committing crimes to support my use. My life spiralled out of control and for a 16 month period I was basically homeless and in and out of prison.
“The reason I am mentioning this is because it was a turning point in my life: after a sustained period of abstinence from drug use and crime, I was offered the opportunity to attend a volunteers’ training course at Westminster Drug Project.
“I decided to go because throughout my using days I had some contact with drug services and was very surprised at how helpful, and friendly the staff were.” Jon described how he developed experience and received further training. “By early 2010 I feel I started to prove myself in my role: I was given more responsibility and I was given the chance to help develop our service. I feel that I was always listened to and supported by management and staff.”
Eventually Jon was encouraged to apply for jobs, and decided he wanted to work for WDP. Today he is a successful drug and alcohol practitioner.
Yasmin Batliwala, Chair of WDP, told the volunteers who had come from across WDP’s services in London and the South East of England, “Volunteers’ Week celebrates the fantastic contribution that volunteers make. Today we say thank you for all the amazing work you do. By giving your time, your skills and your leadership to WDP, you are significantly increasing the help and support we can give to our service users.
“Our mission is to support people to recover from drug and alcohol dependency and help people lead full and active lives in their families and communities. Volunteering is a key part of that cycle, of connecting people with the help they need so that they in turn become empowered and able to give back.”
Volunteers make up one in four of the workforce at WDP – about 100 volunteers and 300 staff. Over half the volunteers have recovered from drug and alcohol dependency themselves and are able to provide powerful role models to current service users.
If you are interested in volunteering with WDP, please visit the website www.wdp-drugs.org.uk and click on volunteering for more information and application form, or visit Re-start. If you want to talk to someone about a drug or alcohol problem, whether for yourself or someone you know, please contact Re-start at:
6-8 Alexandra Grove, North Finchley, N12 8NU – Telephone 020 8492 2525