A short course to success
Released: Tuesday 11th September 2012 at 10:42
THE first ever academic awards ceremony to recognise the achievements of students on short courses in substance misuse and offender health at the University of Sunderland have been presented by an internationally renowned expert in community health issues.
Professor Lord Patel of Bradford presented certificates to adult learners who have completed the Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Drug and Alcohol Studies, or one of the modular short courses in Substance Misuse or Offender Health.
Lord Patel, a former social worker with a distinguished record for his work across a range of issues from mental health, drugs and alcohol use to crime and regeneration, also gave the keynote speech during the ceremony at the University’s Sciences Complex.
The current one-year part-time programmes have been running since 2009 but as the qualification sits outside the traditional academic graduation awards ceremony, which honours undergraduate and postgraduate study, it was decided to introduce a new awards ceremony to honour those who have completed the short courses.
Gez Bevan, Senior Lecturer in the Health team and Programme Leader, said: “We saw this awards-giving ceremony as an opportunity to publicly recognise the achievements of our students who have successfully completed these short courses, especially since their awards sit outside the traditional graduation ceremony. For many of the students this is their first experience of Higher Education and for them a real achievement.
“We are delighted that Lord Patel was able to attend our first ceremony and present the students with their certificates. Many have used the short courses as a progression point in their own professions, some have used the experience towards a career change, while others volunteering within the substance misuse service see the course as putting their work on a formal setting.”
The Diploma, which includes a placement, is aimed at those with an interest in drugs and alcohol studies even if they have no employment or volunteering experience within the field. The Advanced Diploma is aimed at practitioners in related services such as social workers, nurses and community workers, who are looking to build upon their knowledge and experience.
In order that the courses are relevant to the workplace and the career opportunities of students, the programmes have been directly mapped to the relevant Drug and Alcohol National Occupational Standards (DANOS) delighted to be presenting these awards
Lord Patel said: “I am pleased to have been asked to present these awards.
“I have been impressed with Sunderland University’s commitment to these adult students and for delivering qualifications on the use and misuse of drugs and alcohol, which will give them a better understanding of the problems, the interventions and tools which are available to them. Drugs and alcohol misuse is one of the greatest health challenges that we face today. It impacts on patients, their families, and the community, and these students, who may go onto working within the substance misuse sector, will have a vital role to play in helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community with a range of complex needs including mental health issues.”
The awards ceremony was held at the University’s new £8.5m Sciences Complex, City Campus, and was attended by students, staff and representatives from the region’s service agencies that support the adult learners either through employment, placements or academic support.
For more information on the courses, go to: http://www.sunderland.ac.uk/short/
or contact Programme Leader Gez Bevan, tel: 0191 515 3869 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Walker, from Newton Aycliffe, an alcohol worker with the Community Alcohol Service in County Durham, signed up for the Diploma in Drug and Alcohol Studies to further his knowledge and qualifications.
He said: “I really enjoyed the course. It’s the first time I have been in higher education and it certainly gave me a different ways of looking at all sorts of areas related to my work. It’s a great gesture by the university to hold these awards and I’m so glad I came. Lord Patel’s speech was really insightful.”
After a stint working with Gateshead Youth Council, Diane Galvin saw first-hand the problems that young people faced with drug and alcohol issues and decided to retrain.
She signed up for the University’s Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Drug and Alcohol Studies.
Diane, originally from Ireland, but now lives in Tyne & Wear, said: “There’s no substitute for talking directly to users and their families, but you definitely need the academia behind you to be able to prove yourself.
“Gez Bevan has been an amazing support over the last two years and the awards were a great acknowledgement of all the work we have done.
“I am a huge fan of Lord Patel, I actually wrote a final dissertation piece on his research, so it was fantastic to meet him.”
During her studies, Diane undertook a placement with Safer Communities at Gateshead Council and came into contact with the Northern Engagement into Recovery from Addiction Foundation (NERAF), which has now resulted in a voluntary position with the service three days a week.