It’s our birthday! 36 years of supporting Bristol

Today marks 36 years of BDP. That’s 36 years of supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. 36 years of pursuing evidence-based treatment methods. 36 years of challenging stigma where we see it. And 36 years of being available for YOU if you decide you want to make changes around your drug and/or alcohol use.

BDP was started by a group of impassioned probation officers and people with lived experience who saw a lack of provision for people who use drugs in Bristol and stepped up to fill that need. Since then, BDP has grown and evolved but we still operate by the same philosophy as those early days; to support some of the most vulnerable members of our society in an open and inclusive service and to challenge the prejudice which people with drug or alcohol problems still experience. This remains a major barrier to people seeking the support they need.

So on this day of celebration, we want to bring you inside our services. To do this, we’ve asked two staff members to give you an insight into their role and what they get up to on a day to day basis. Of course, every member of staff has a unique story, and every team has a whole raft of responsibilities beyond the scope of this article, but if you enjoy this insight and would like to read more, please do let us know.

First up is Liana, who is part of our Shared Care team. Shared Care workers work out of GP surgeries to assist GPs by providing expert drug and alcohol treatment knowledge, handling prescriptions and other routes into drug and alcohol treatment.

“I have been a Shared Care Worker at BDP for what seems like forever, but of course, this is not actually the case. I have held several different positions across BDP and feel like I’ve found my home in Shared Care. What I like the most about Shared Care is that we get to work with service users for as long as they need support. I have the time to build solid relationships with my clients and support them to achieve real change.

“A day in my life as a Shared Care Worker is busy; that is the most honest answer. You never know what the day will bring and you certainly don’t have time to look at the clock. The bustle is what makes my role interesting and varied, however. I love the variety of working in and out of the office and in GP surgeries, as it makes me feel like I am part of four different teams.

“What makes my role, though is building relationships with the service users on my caseload. Some will complete and exit treatment quickly, some may be returning, and others may take much longer. This is just the complex nature of the problems these individuals are facing. As a worker, we cannot force an individual to make changes they do not want to make but the ability to build trust and rapport with our clients gives us the best opportunity to enable them to make the changes that are right for them at that point in time. Sometimes I feel I know them as well as my family and friends; I have met their children, their partners, their mums and sometimes even their grannies.”

Next is Becky, who recently returned to BDP to join our Early Engagement and Intervention (EEI) team after previously volunteering with us.

“It may be a cliche, but every day is never the same in the EEI team. The BDP building is bustling, and this, along with our outreach programme, means the working week is incredibly varied. Whether it is offering someone a cup of tea and a chat or issuing the lifesaving overdose reversal drug naloxone, there is always something different happening.

“This variety is what I enjoy the most about my role. From being downstairs in our drop-in space, known as the advice centre, to taking the service out via in-reach to hostels or via street outreach; BDP are continuously trying to get harm reduction out there. By doing so, we can provide support to those who may struggle to access it without, such as via our nursing service, which can be invaluable to individuals who find it difficult to get a GP appointment, let alone physically get to their surgery.

“We are so lucky to have a mix of volunteers and staff from all different backgrounds, something as an inclusive service BDP prides itself on. Having started as a volunteer, I know just how much you are able (and encouraged) to get involved in. This is not only important for those who walk through the door but for the growth and development of the organisation as a whole. I feel that I am able to continuously learn within the role and expand my knowledge, with new ideas welcomed and cheered on.”

5 minute read

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