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Bernie’s GROW Traineeship

A GROW Traineeship provides people with ‘lived experience’ the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills and experience whilst in a paid role. 

In this blog we hear from Bernie, who has now successfully completed her Traineeship. Her account of her experience is brilliant to read and gives a real insight into the role itself.

Meet Bernie!

Bernie began her Traineeship back in August 2019. She attended our recruitment GROW event, which gave her the opportunity to share her experience and passion for recovery and supporting others. 

“Prior to my role at CLI I did some voluntary work for another organisation, doing similar work and really loved it.

I was working with an individual who was homeless and in recovery from drug and alcohol who needed support. This work inspired me to get into this as a career. It was such a privilege to be part of his journey and watch him grow in confidence, get his own flat and become the person he was always meant to be.”

“I referred him to CLI for additional support and this is when I met Zoe and found out about the GROW trainee role. I applied, and attended the “Getting to know you” day.

This was my first experience of actually being interviewed in such a different and more accessible way than I have ever had before. I really enjoyed the experience and ended up being offered the role. Since Aug 2019 my life has changed beyond belief.”

My confidence and self-esteem has grown beyond belief during my time with CLI. I came into this role with hardly any self-worth, and experience in this field of work but through working with such a variety of different mentees, each with their own individual and complex needs, I have had so many successful experiences and outcomes that I have had so much personal growth alongside my clients its been amazing.


Above, BBC Three Counties Interview on Addiction and Recovery, Bernie discussed her experience, where she is at now in her recovery and with supporting others. 

“All I can say about my role at CLI is that it is the best, and most amazing job I have ever had.”

“I have faced many ups and downs with those I support and professionals over the time I have been doing this work. Although, nearly all of my mentee’s have made such huge personal growth during the time I have supported them, its been beautiful to watch and be a part of.”

“Just some of the things I have learnt…”

A snippet of what our Traineeships offer to people in terms of skills and experience…

“The skills and development I have gained over the past year are huge and probably too many to list but here are just some of the things I have learnt and developed over my time with CLI:

  • How to work with and alongside other professionals in a wide range of roles, keeping them updated with my mentee’s progress and engagement. 
  • Working as part of supportive team. I am used to lone working, but this experience of being part has been one that will be hard to beat.
  • To learn how to be solution focused with all my clients who present with such a complex range of needs.
  • Knowledge of what is on offer in our local communities and where the gaps are in what is available to our clients.
  • Advocating for clients for a wide range of issues.
  • Uploading notes onto a system, carrying out assessments and supporting case studies.”

“I am now in a much better position…”

With the nature of work we do and the field we work in, not everyone that will come through CLI’s doors will leave having made lasting change to their life. However, we always remind people our doors are open, and hope they will return when they are ready. These types of challenges will test our trainee’s, as well as help them develop and reaffirm professional boundaries. Bernie feels she has learnt a few things through her time at CLI. 

“I have had some clients who started to make progress, and then things have had a negative impact on them and they have gone back to the use of drugs. This was really hard to accept, and to end our mentoring relationship was really quite painful. 

I have had to learn to accept that not everyone is ready to make the necessary changes when they come to us, despite how much effort and hard work I put in. Also, I have learnt the hard way that just because I am passionate about recovery and the work I do doesn’t mean they are.

Furthermore, I have gained more experience on how to support some of my mentee’s through some really challenging and emotional experiences, without it having a detrimental effect on me personally. This has probably been my biggest area of growth as I have set boundaries.

I am now in a much better position, and these are experiences that I will carry forward into my new role.”

What’s next for Bernie?

Saying goodbye to our GROW’s when they complete their Traineeship is always a bittersweet moment for us. We are so pleased to have supported Bernie into further employment. It really shows the success of this scheme. 

“I am starting a full time position with another organisation as a Community Well-being Champion, or social prescriber, which I prefer.

I am really excited about this new role and am so chuffed that I still get to work hands on with clients as that’s where my passion still lies.”

“CLI is such a powerful and supportive organisation, whose values and principles are something I hold close to my heart.”

“I will be so sad to leave CLI.  I have been shown love, support, encouragement, education and above all what its like to be part of such an amazing team.

I will also take with me the growth and knowledge I have gained over the past year, and the friendships and relationships I have built over the time.

I may not be working for CLI anymore but there will always be a part of it in my heart, and I will support and encourage other organisations to make use of this fantastic resource in the areas I will be working.”

CLI wish Bernie all the best for the future and in her new role, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have her as part of the team and watch her succeed. Thank you for all your hard-work Bernie, this is EXACTLY why we’re so passionate about our GROW Traineeships Getting real opportunities of work. 

Hear more about Bernie’s experience below…

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