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Offer support not stigma

Blenheim has submitted a response to Dame Carol Black’s independent review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction and obesity.

The response used evidence from an evaluation of Blenheim’s ETE service in Kensington & Chelsea which included key messages from service users about their needs and the barriers they face in gaining employment.

The key points raised the in response are;

  • ETE services specialising in working with those with substance misuse related unemployment work most effectively when integrated into or very closely aligned to the substance misuse treatment system.”
  • Many clients feedback their experience of feeling ashamed and stigmatised when accessing JCP/DWP. This was felt to lead to some not being “open and honest” about complex health and social issues and therefore missing out on additional help through “fear of repercussions.”
  • In one of the focus groups the ‘benefits’ system received 0/5 for understanding and there was general agreement that the mental health issues linked to addiction were not understood.
  • Many people that access treatment for drug and/or alcohol misuse do so when life has reached a crisis. Many of our clients have either no housing or insecure housing. This alone is a barrier to employment since employers require an address.
  • Prejudice is a serious barrier to employment for those with substance misusing histories and inclusion of this in the Equality Act would demonstrate a government commitment to supporting the recovery and reintegration of drug and alcohol misusers into the wider community.

“People enter substance misuse treatment with a wide range of health and social needs. These need to be addressed alongside building motivation and aspiration for sustainable change. Drug and alcohol users are not a homogenous group. People are drawn to misusing substances from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and possess a broad range of skills, abilities and talents. For some these need to be re-discovered and all skills and talents need careful nurture. Those best placed to assist this process are specialist substance misuse/ETE practitioners.

Sanctioning those who choose not to take up treatment options runs the risk of claimants not claiming, not accessing treatment and moving further into the margins of society. This not only further damages the individual and their families; it robs communities of the additional skills, experiences and resources brought by recovering substance misusers.”

You can read the full response here – Dame Carol Black Consultation August 2015

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