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Bellerose, Delphine and McGuire, Vivion (2008) Bridge-to-Workplace inter-agency initiative. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 27, Autumn 2008, p. 13.

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On 26 May 2008, the operational management group of the Bridge-to-Workplace project launched its progress report.1 Bridge-to-Workplace is an inter-agency initiative aimed at facilitating the reintegration of individuals with a history of illicit drug use through a programme of training and work experience.

 This project is seed funded by FÁS and the Finglas Cabra Local Drugs Task Force as part of the National Drugs Strategy. The other agencies involved are: Ballymun Job Centre Co-operative, Blanchardstown Local Employment Service Network (LESN), Dublin Inner City Partnership, Finglas Cabra Partnership LESN, HSE Rehabilitation/Integration Service (RIS), Inner City Employment Service, and Northside Partnership LESN.
 
Customised reintegration plan
The primary aim of Bridge-to-Workplace is to facilitate access to mainstream education and to provide clients with work placement opportunities. The project also provides a wider range of services, such as counselling, life-skills training, career guidance and housing support. Clients referred to the project must be drug free (unless on methadone maintenance), stable, motivated and committed. Key workers from both the employment and the rehabilitation services assess and agree on a client’s suitability. An individualised progression plan is developed based on the client’s needs, interests, stability and skills, and this plan is monitored and reviewed on an ongoing basis through three-way meetings with the client and RIS and LESN officers.
 
Between August 2005 and December 2006, a total of 74 clients participated in the programme, of whom 39 (52.7%) have completed or are presently engaged in a work placement. The majority of placements have been within the commercial sector, lasting between two and 25 weeks, with an average of 12 weeks. Feedback from team members, employers and clients has been very positive and participants have referred to their work experience in terms of increased confidence and motivation, and as a catalyst for progression.
 
A multi-agency model
By combining the expertise of two key agencies, Bridge-to-Workplace provides a more cost-effective and cohesive service to address the complex and multiple issues presented by the target group. This holistic approach and the provision of daily or weekly support throughout each individual progression plan require a high level of integration and co-operation. The implementation of practical protocols was paramount to the development of an effective and transparent working relationship between agencies. While this collaborative effort allowed ongoing assessment of the clients’ stability and motivation, appropriate timing of training or placement and prompt identification of potential issues, it also highlighted the political and practical difficulties to be overcome. Bridge-to-Workplace offers a valuable insight into the challenges and benefits of an inter-agency approach, and has the potential to set standards for a more integrated service provision for the social reintegration of individuals with a history of problem drug use.
 
 
1. Bridge-to-Workplace (2008) Bridge-to-Workplace: an inter-agency initiative. Working together: progress report. Dublin: Bridge-to-Workplace. Available at www.fcp.ie.
Item Type
Article
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Rehabilitation/Recovery
Issue Title
Issue 27, Autumn 2008
Date
2008
Page Range
p. 13
Publisher
Health Research Board
Volume
Issue 27, Autumn 2008
EndNote
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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