Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : New peer mentoring programme to help people out of addiction and into work [May 2023]

The press release issued by the Department for Work and Pensions on 19 May 2023.

A new £3.7 million employment programme will see mentors who have beat drug or alcohol addiction placed in Jobcentres to help others with dependencies recover and get back into work.

  • Mentors with experience of drug or alcohol dependency set to guide people on journey out of addiction and into work
  • £3.7 million DWP programme is being trialled in 40 Jobcentres across England this month as part of efforts to grow the economy
  • Mentors hail return to work as vital step to their own recovery and a pathway out of addiction

The new peer mentoring programme, run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), is being trialled in 40 Jobcentres across England from May 2023 and is part of wider efforts to support people back into work – delivering on the Government’s priority to grow the economy.

Now open for referrals, it will see mentors, contracted by DWP after being recommended by partner organisations, draw on their lived experiences of drug or alcohol dependency to support people in the same position.

They will help others in disclosing their dependency issues without fear of reprisal, signpost them to help that will assist them to manage their addiction, and eventually equip them with the necessary skills to access education, training, volunteering, and employment.

Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression, Mims Davies MP, said:

Our new peer mentors are proof that work can be a crucial part of someone’s journey out of substance dependency, transforming their life.

Their lived experience will help them provide expert one-to-one advice and support from DWP in our Jobcentres, helping people recovering from addiction move into work.

“This new form of support will not only give people in recovery the tailored help they need to get on in life and prosper, but it will also help grow our economy by getting more people back into the workforce.”

Declan, a peer mentor whose journey back into work helped him overcome 20 years of substance dependency, said:

I spent around 20 years using continuously, almost every couple of days in the second decade. Having a close friend pass away because of an overdose was the beginning of my journey out of substance dependency.

“Volunteering really helped me in my recovery and set me up for a return to work. In my new role as peer mentor, I’m looking forward to helping people who are going through the same sort of issues I had and starting them on their journey to recovery.”

Gary, another mentor who is drawing from his own experience of opiate dependency in his new role, said:

I was opiate dependent for 15 years and used crack cocaine. After a short spell in prison, due to offending related to my drug use, I linked with a support worker upon release. They pointed me towards a place that supported recovery and helped people gain life and employment skills.

“I’m now pleased to be taking up this new peer mentoring role and helping others who share similar experiences to my own. The space and time DWP are providing for people with drug or alcohol dependency is a vital step in the right direction for their recovery and eventual employment.”

In addition to this support, DWP is also investing over £39 million to expand its Individual Placement and Support for drug and alcohol dependency programme to all Local Authority areas in England by 2025. This programme supports individuals in structured drug and alcohol treatment to find and remain in employment.

The new peer mentoring service is open for referrals in Jobcentres in the following areas and organisations working with those who are dependent on substances, or individuals themselves are encouraged to get in touch:

  • North East: Hull
  • South East: Portsmouth, Cosham, Fareham, Havant, Gosport
  • London & Essex: Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Westminster, Camden, Newham, Islington, Croydon, Lambeth
  • North West: Liverpool City, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Southport, Sefton, Halton

Notes to Editors:

The Peer Mentoring Programme is part of the Government’s 10-year drugs strategy to reduce crime and save lives, including actions to break drug supply chains and delivering a world-class treatment and recovery system