Helping people go from substance misuse to work

Nick Julius, Employment and Training Advisor, South Westminster Drug and Alcohol Service, finds employment and training for people with previous substance misuse issues for charity Turning Point. He now spends half of his week at Business in the Community supporting his clients through the Ready for Work programme.

Nick Julius, Employment and Training Advisor for the South Westminster Drug and Alcohol ServiceTurning Point is a social enterprise providing health and social care services for people with complex needs in 200 locations across England and Wales, including in community services, primary care settings, hospitals and prisons. Nick Julius takes us through his day supporting his clients through Ready for Work and tells us why the partnership is so important for his work.

“I wake up and get dressed putting on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt; it would be ridiculous to meet our clients in a three piece suit; they just wouldn’t feel comfortable.  I don’t need to be in work until 10am, most of our clients don’t like early starts when they first come to us, so we all work 10am until 6pm. The long morning suits me fine but once I’m in work, I don’t stop!”

“When I get into work, I am greeted by the most amazing colleagues at both organisations. The teams are very supportive of each other and that is important because the job can really take it out of you, both emotionally and physically. Some clients when they first come to us are in a terrible state, they have been through some terrible things. The Ready for Work and Turning Point clients are very similar; both have multiple barriers to work, whether that is homelessness, a criminal conviction, anxiety / depression. I find my colleagues who can break the cycle of addiction, especially in the early stages, truly inspiring.”

“So once I have caught up with my colleagues, I take a look at my workload. I could be having one-to-one meetings with clients to assess their employment and training needs or guiding them onto the Ready for Work Programme. When I have my Ready for Work hat on and it's programme time, I will be out visiting my clients on their placements, helping with pre-placement training or visiting the partner businesses to find out how they think things are going.”

“I currently have over 400 clients to support and we are now linking into the tri-borough services for Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster, so my workload will only grow. Turning Point began to work with Business in the Community on the Ready for Work programme because we lacked the ability to connect with businesses ourselves, but needed tailored support to help our clients into work. Knowing that my clients are getting the support they need from the volunteer buddies and job coaches means I can give extra attention to other clients who might not be quite work-ready.”

“I run three group meetings each week that focus on digital inclusion, interview technique, and emotional intelligence, amongst other soft skills. If I don’t have a group in the afternoon, I will grab a quick lunch before helping more clients onto the Ready for Work programme or supporting them to look for work once they have completed their placement.”

"At the end of every day I sit down with my colleagues to help them offload before they go home. As I said, the support that our clients need, especially at Turning Point, can be intensive and so it is important that we clear our minds before we head home – that way I make sure I always get a good night’s sleep!”

Read more personal stories of participants of BITC's Ready for Work programme.