Trainee Q&A

BDP's Engagement Team provide free and confidential advice, information and support to adults using alcohol or drug problematically throughout Bristol, working within our Health and Harm Reduction Centre, Needle Exchanges and through outreach with partner organisation.

We catch up with two of our trainees who are just about to complete their first five month placement in our Engagement Team, before beginning their next placement in the Treatment Team.


What were your motivations for applying for the Traineeship?

I was a former client at BDP, it played a massive part in my recovery, so I knew a lot of staff from engaging here. I also knew a lot of people who had done the traineeship, who really enjoyed it and had gone on to get a career out of it. We were both volunteering as Peers at DHI so this was the kind of work I was interested in doing, it seemed like a logical progression. When I applied I didn’t expect to get an interview. This is the first job where I’d needed an interview in my entire life.

Because I’ve also used BDP services in the past, for me this is a thing of giving back. That has always been my motive from the start.

How were you introduced into the Traineeship?

We’ve been with the Engagement service since the beginning of June. Our traineeship started in April, and for the first two months we were shadowing people offering one-to-one support and needle exchanges in the Health & Harm Reduction Centre and doing training two days a week.

They gradually weaned us into the services, so if someone came in for support, instead of shadowing the staff, the tables would be turned and they’d shadow us to see how we got on.

How did you feel when you first started your placement in the Engagement Team?

When I first started, I thought I ain’t going to cope, I ain’t going catch up with all of this. That doubt was there. I was scared first to open my mouth, I thought I’d just potter on and do the work. I thought if I started asking questions they’d think ain’t good at doing the job, but the environment at BDP means they appreciate it more if we ask questions because that means you’re learning, you’re taking things on board. There’s no harm in asking.

That was drummed into us at the beginning. People would get worried if we don’t ask questions. When I came into it I thought I’d be useless. The people in our team are so vastly experienced, they’re so good at what they do, I was thinking I could never even measure up to any of this. But now if I’ve got issues about anything I talk it out with the guys on the team. They’ve just been really supportive and it’s helped to bring up my confidence that I can do this.

What would you say are the key skills you offer in the Engagement Team?

We’re here to listen to you, here to offer you help and signpost you to support at different organisations. Sometimes people are in a really bad place and we need to find out what support they need at that precise time.

You might have a one-to-one with someone and you can sit there with them for half an hour and when they leave you can see they feel a bit easier in themselves, that you’ve planted some seeds of change somewhere. To know you’re helping them in small ways to prevent harm or find support, that's really nice, I like that a lot.

They come out of there, they shake you by the hand and say they’ve really appreciated you listening to them. That’s a massive highlight knowing that a person has felt listened to and that they know they can come back through our door and there is hope. That’s bang on in my eyes. I’ve done it, I’ve done my job.

Has it been useful doing the placement at the same time as each other?

We’ve been concentrated on different parts of the Engagement service, but we always have a chat and if there’s stuff that I don’t know I’’ll ask him and vice versa. Its been another level of support.

Yeah, we’ve got the Engagement team who always help each other out, but it has been beneficial for me having someone else go through this with me since the beginning.

How are you feeling now leaving the Engagement Team and starting your next placement in the Treatment Team?

I’m going to miss the team most of all. The whole team has been brilliant. I can’t think of anyone that hasn’t helped me in some way. But I’m looking forward to the change. At the minute I have no idea what it’s going to be like, so there’s some fear of the unknown, some apprehension. But I’m looking forward to the new challenges definitely, without a doubt.

We'll also miss our service users, that bond we’ve created. The people we see every day, seeing where they’re at. Its been a massive learning in the past six months, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about BDP, not blowing their trumpet but it has been good so far. I’m looking forward to the next experience, another page in the book.