Karen Black, an MSc Contemporary Drug & Alcohol Studies graduate, has nothing but good things to say about UWS. Why wouldn’t she? Her first stint at the University led her to 15 years’ worth of employment (and counting) at Turning Point Scotland. And when Karen thought it was time to take her career to the next level, it was UWS that she turned to again to complete her Masters.
Karen completed the Postgraduate Diploma stage of the programme in 2006. “It was the practical aspect of the course that appealed to me”, says Karen. “I was placed in a community alcohol and other drug service with Turning Point Scotland and the opportunity to put my learning into practice was invaluable.”
During that placement a support worker vacancy came up in the service and Karen was successful in securing the role. “I started work the week after my placement finished!”
In 2017, Karen returned to complete the research component of the MSc and gain her Masters. “At that time, I was developing a citizenship programme for people who access our services. Through listening to people’s experiences of community I was hearing a lot about the stigma and exclusion that people on methadone experience from within the systems, structures and communities designed to support them. I wanted to understand more about this, particularly in the context of Scotland’s drug policy.”
Karen highlights the opportunity within the programme to research a topic that impacts on people’s lives and do something positive to inform the system.
“Completing my MSc has enabled me to incorporate a research component to my role, which includes the development of a co-researcher training programme for people who have accessed services to be meaningfully involved in our internal research and evaluation processes.”
And Karen’s research hasn’t only worked its way into Turning Point Scotland’s system, she has presented her research nationally and internationally too!
“I won an award for best poster at the Drug Research Network Scotland conference in 2018 and presented my research at the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy conference in Paris in 2019.”
Find out more about our MSc Contemporary Drug & Alcohol Studies programme here.