How an apprentice is improving support for the Tamil Community

National Apprenticeship Week (7–13 February) was a week-long celebration of apprenticeships in England.

The theme this year is ‘build the future’, reflecting how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and help organisations to develop a talented workforce.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, WDP Merton Service Manager Helen O’Connor and former apprentice Elil Jeyakumar share how Elil has helped the service to break down the barriers to drug and alcohol treatment in the local Tamil community.

When WDP became the service provider for Merton in 2018, one thing we were keen to do was to respond better to local needs and deliver more culturally informed support to residents from Merton’s diverse communities. A particular area of focus was how the service engaged and worked with residents from the local Tamil community. 

It can be difficult for professional interpreters who are not experienced in the delivery of drug and alcohol services, to understand our processes or find words to translate some of the vocabulary that we routinely use. Even when interpreters can support assessments and 1-2-1 keyworking sessions, their presence may be a barrier to an effective working relationship between a practitioner and service user. This is especially the case if there is a different interpreter in each session, or when the interpreter is from the service user’s community, if they do not feel confident speaking freely in front of them.

We wanted to find new ways to address barriers and to provide more choice in the solutions on offer, including groups and peer support. Using the apprenticeship levy scheme, we recruited an apprentice practitioner who could speak Tamil. Their role focused on helping us  to understand how we could adapt to better engage with Tamil-speakers and their families,  improving their experience of treatment.

Elil joined us in 2019. He has made such a difference to our local service and has now successfully completed his apprenticeship. We’re delighted that he has stayed with the service, becoming a fully-fledged recovery practitioner and a vital and valued member of our team. I’ll let him tell you more about his experience with us!

Click here for Elil’s story


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We are proud to work in partnership with many of the leading charities and treatment providers in the sector.

This content was created by WDP

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