Pubdate: Tue, 10 Aug 2004
Source: Times Of Malta (Malta)
Copyright: 2004 Allied Newspapers Limited
Author: Vanessa Macdonald


The Employment and Training Corporation found employment for 20 former drug
users in 2002/2003, compared with 24 in 2001/2 and 15 in 2000/01.

In addition, it also trained 83 people who had followed Caritas drug
rehabilitation programmes (101 in 2002 and 37 in 2000).

The corporation has a Supported Employment Division, specifically set up to
help special cases, who include former prison inmates, former substance
abusers, and social cases. Its staff have all received intensive training in
Sweden by its Swedish counterpart, the Swedish National Labour Market Board.

The division makes a considerable effort to find work for clients, and sent
2,775 submissions in 2002/2003, up from 853 the previous 12 months. From
these, it found work for 89 individuals in 2002/03 (65 in 2001/02 and 24 in
2000/01). In September 2003, it had a caseload of 293, almost 60 per cent of
whom are aged 25-39.

The ETC was contacted for statistics by The Times after a letter appeared
highlighting a bad experience one employer had had with a drug user, who
stole repeatedly.

Caritas also put this case into context, while at the same time reassuring
potential employers.

"Let us keep in mind that even persons who do not take drugs may steal and
be dishonest at their place of work," a Caritas spokesman told The Times.

There are approximately 300 clients (excluding families) a year attending
the various programmes and services within the New Hope Project Caritas.

"We can proudly state that all clients who attend the San Blas Residential
Programme and the Prison Inmates Programme move to the non-residential phase
only when they start working.

"Furthermore in order to graduate from their programme they need to have
been working and living within society for a year.

"All clients who attend Caritas and work are continuously supervised and
supported on a weekly basis."

Caritas, reflecting the message given last week by substance abuse agency
Sedqa, stressed the importance for clients to find a job once they kick the

"If a person once had a drug problem and now wants to work and lead a normal
life, it is very hard for them to be given a chance if people assume that
all drug addicts are criminals. And if a person is not allowed to work, how
can he live? What does he do all day if not go to work? This is a very high
risk situation for relapse."

Thankfully, all clients who are on the Caritas programme find a job.
Surprisingly, the ones who find it harder are the ones with the most

"These clients who are capable of having more responsible jobs find it
harder to be trusted to be hired in certain roles. However, through sheer
motivation they eventually all manage to find a job and more importantly
retain their job, even moving into better positions once they spend some
time and prove themselves."

When a client informs his employer that he is attending a Caritas programme
or service, the employer may make contact with Caritas.

"With the permission of the client we are then able to inform the employer
that the client is remaining free of drugs and is attending weekly sessions
within our programme or service.

"If an employer is afraid of employing someone with a drug related history,
they may contact an agency such as Caritas, who through an agreement with
all parties, may follow the person and give and receive feedback regarding
drugs, lifestyle, attitude and general behaviour."
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