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Fighting addiction can be one of the most difficult and lonely things that any individual is forced to do. However, at the Acton Training Centre (ATC) under the aegis of the London West Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the remarkable talents of a former drug user to support and guide others through similar problems has proven a remarkable success.

Harvey Dhaliwal, 26, was referred to the ATC by the drug rehabilitation service he had attended in Ealing where he had been recuperating from using heroin. He had formerly begun a PC engineering course at a local college, and it soon became plain to the staff at the ATC that he had technical skills. His potential and his skills were quickly recognised and he was offered a post at the ATC, where he now offers support and guidance to those young people whose lives are in danger of being overshadowed by drug use.

ESF Funding

He was able to join the workforce development programme at the Centre, which is funded by the London West LSC through the European Social Fund (ESF). He successfully completed his NVQ Level II in Computer Skills, and obtained both his basic and then advanced level European Computer Driving License qualifications. He provides support to new learners, and has become involved in the marketing of the Progress to Work and Opportunities 2 Work programmes. He himself was one of the first referred through the Opportunities 2 Work programme.

Harvey is optimistic for the future, both for himself and for future learners. "This has added to my skills and I"m much more inclined to take on other courses. The future is a lot brighter now." He is grateful that those working at the Centre noticed his potential, and quickly engaged in the work. "They looked at my CV and were impressed. I was given a work placement. In my spare time from studying I helped run the computer network here and was involved in building PCs."

The Role Fulfilled

Peter Pledger, the Executive Director of the London West LSC, sees Harvey's case as a model for their task in the area. "Our role is to make sure that everyone has opportunities to learn and that the learning has a positive impact. ESF has enabled us to support projects like this, which have clearly benefited young people like Harvey. He has succeeded despite his difficult circumstances through his own strength and determination to overcome the obstacles he faced and improved his chances in life, making a positive impact on the local community," he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Sukhdev Virdi, the Director of the Acton Training Centre, who said: "Harvey is an asset to ATC who makes a positive contribution to the work of the centre and is a role model for other people who find themselves in a similar position to Harvey. The LSC funding has enabled Harvey to develop his skills and apply them constructively to the benefit of himself, our learners and ATC."

Jethro Marsh

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