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Consensus statement


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Agreed by Delegates attending the
European Summer University :
Drugs, Inclusion and Employment
Glasgow, 28 – 30 June 2004

Recognising that:

  1. Problem drug use is a complex issue, linked to deprivation and poverty, and that drug users share a common experience with other people experiencing social exclusion;
  2. Drug users face structural exclusion from the labour market, often compounded by homelessness, a criminal record, and dependence on state benefits;
  3. The human potential of those experiencing drug problems is a resource to be tapped, and very many of these individuals would like to access long term employment;
  4. Strategic appraisal of local labour market needs will identify skill shortages that may be met by excluded individuals;
  5. There are powerful social, equalities and economic arguments for securing pathways into employment for drug users;
  6. Models of effective practice exist which can be shared and implemented more widely, and a demand for the ‘new’ at the expense of the ‘proven’ is unhelpful and economically wasteful;
  7. Nevertheless, new models of access to housing, lifelong learning and education, training and employment also need to be developed alongside proven existing routes;
  8. Both individual drug users and employers have needs that must be met in order for the employment equation to be effective;
  9. Timescales to resolve social exclusion and long term unemployment require to be individually tailored and realistic;
  10. Effective employment programmes for drug users improve treatment outcomes and represent one of the most effective approaches to drug prevention for the next generation.


We recommend that:

  1. The challenge of supporting drug users into employment is seen as an evolving process, integrated into the treatment and rehabilitation process and with continuing support, as required, in the community and when employed;
  2. Strategic partnerships, addressing the needs of all excluded groups, are developed at local and national level to achieve large scale change towards full employment;
  3. Operational frameworks, informed by good practice, are established within which agencies addressing different aspects of social exclusion can work together to maximise the employability and social re-integration of drug users;
  4. Employers’ organisations are engaged in the social change agenda (including the elimination of the stigma attached to drug use), so that workplace policies and cultures develop to the mutual benefit of individuals and the employing bodies, with public sector agencies taking a lead in this;
  5. A coherent balance is struck between the provision of drug treatment services and the availability of housing, education, training, and employment opportunities;
  6. Incentives and facilitation are created for new ways of working and contributing to society, for example through volunteering, social firms, cooperatives and intermediate labour market organisations;
  7. Sustainable, long term funding streams are made available to support proven initiatives which demonstrate successful social re-integration of drug users;
  8. Greater flexibility is developed in housing, education, training, and employment programmes and in the benefits framework, in order to increase access by those from socially excluded backgrounds;
  9. Cost - benefit analyses are developed to demonstrate the economic and social value of the investment required for large scale programme expansion;
  10. This consensus statement is used as a basis for influencing European Union drug and employment strategies, and those of individual countries, with a view to national governments becoming more ‘joined up’ in their responses to drugs and social re-integration.




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