Monica's story

After a redundancy in 2010, I decided to take some time out to review my career options. I’ve had my own experience with substance misuse so I thought it would be great to give something back and help others who struggle with drug and alcohol problems.

I applied and was accepted on the WDP volunteer programme and successfully completed the six-week training course to become a volunteer substance misuse practitioner. I was then placed with the WDP Essex team based in Colchester.

At first, I was job-shadowing my manager and was gradually given more responsibilities as my knowledge and confidence grew. I continued working with Drug Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR) clients. I also worked at the Crown and Magistrates’ courts, looking out for potential clients. I carried out arrest referral work in police stations, did swab testing for DRR clients on their order, managed my own caseload of clients and worked alongside partnership agencies looking at ways of reducing offending behaviour.

In January 2013, I passed my Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Health & Social Care and I completed a number of WDP training courses. In May 2013, a community practitioner job at WDP Essex was advertised. I applied for it and was offered me the job! I couldn’t believe it, it was the best day of my life and I cried all day with joy. Now, I work as a full-time community practitioner for WDP in Chelmsford, Essex. As well as managing a busy caseload, I am one of the frontline staff involved in the Drug Testing on Arrest (DtoA) pilot scheme with the Essex police.

My highlights so far have been my nomination for a WDP staff and volunteer award (SAVA) earlier this year. It felt great to be recognised by my team. Another highlight was to take part in WDP’s National Volunteers’ Week event in June where I was asked to speak about my journey from volunteer to employee.

I would highly recommend WDP to anyone who wants to become a volunteer. WDP offers a fantastic training package with a variety of courses and they will help you obtain the skills and qualifications required in whatever role you pursue.

In 2012 WDP received the ‘Investing in Volunteers’ award from Volunteering England in 2012. So you know that you’re going to receive best from them!