Addaction logoIn 2011 Addaction – the UK’s leading drug and alcohol charity – approved its first ever L&D strategy and funding. This followed various consultation events, interviews and surveys across the organisation with key stakeholders: the senior leadership team, board of trustees, managers, all staff, volunteers and service users. All these groups had a voice in forming the organisation’s learning needs and subsequent strategy.

L&D funding was initially fixed for 12 months, but the ambition was to develop top quality learning and development – including eLearning, face-to-face training and qualifications – beyond that. Online questionnaires and end of training ‘happy sheets’ were used to produce quarterly activity and evaluation reports to support the view that L&D should become a permanent service.

An eLearning developer was hired to create bespoke resources to meet the learning needs of Addaction’s 1,600 staff and volunteers, who are based at around 100 locations in England and Scotland. ELearning is the cornerstone of the L&D team’s delivery and as well as bespoke content created in-house, Charity Learning Consortium modules are used to support management development programmes, practitioner training and individual personal development needs.

In 2012 L&D funding increased, allowing the product range to be developed. Resources are created in response to feedback from staff and managers, and prioritised through consultation with senior managers. Bespoke eLearning is developed collaboratively with internal subject matter experts and used in two ways. Firstly, to deliver mandatory training – required as a registered provider with the Care Quality Commission. Secondly, to deliver a range of sector-specific training. The combined return on investment for these eLearning modules is around £780,000, when compared with buying in eLearning or face-to-face training from external suppliers (which was the case before 2011). The L&D team are also proud to have consistently achieved a 98%+ positive satisfaction rating across its entire delivery, as demonstrated by on-going evaluations.

In 2013, one of Addaction’s key objectives in its three year strategy was to promote the continuing professional development of its workforce. Velda Barnes, Head of L&D was delighted: “This was the ‘we’ve done it’ moment. L&D is now not only valued by learners but also recognised as being key to supporting the achievement of Addaction’s overarching strategic aim.”

Velda added: “We had a clear vision from our initial consultation about what we wanted L&D to look like and how eLearning would be used to support and deliver that. Our vision is evolving, and we still have work to do but on-going consultation and collaboration across the organisation ensures we’re delivering what’s needed in order to provide effective substance misuse services.”

Judges of the Charity Learning Awards 2014 commented on the great return on investment from using eLearning, with clear evidence of an embedded learning strategy which has senior management support.

Martin Baker, CEO and founder of the Charity Learning Consortium, commented: “Engagement is always the toughest nut to crack when it comes to embedding learning within an organisation – whether that’s getting buy-in from stakeholders or engaging your workforce with what you’re doing. Velda tackled this by getting all stakeholders involved early on, giving them a voice to help shape Addaction’s learning strategy. She’s maintained that level of engagement with a spectacular 98%+ positive satisfaction rating across all of the L&D team’s delivery. That’s an amazing achievement in such a short space of time, and a fantastic example for any sector to follow. I look forward to hearing her present at the Learning Technologies conference in January 2015.”

Velda Barnes, Head of L&D, Addaction, shares her three tips for raising the profile of L&D: Addaction

  1. Advertise: Advertise your face-to-face training within your eLearning, and advertise your eLearning within your face-to-face training. We also utilise our SharePoint based intranet to advertise our training events and to store information about our L&D activities, including an FAQ document for our Moodle site.
  2. Evaluate: Every eLearning module, training day or qualification course we deliver is evaluated and we use the feedback to improve our interventions and to highlight our numerous successes.
  3. Report: We continue to produce quarterly reports detailing both activity and evaluation feedback across our L&D provision. These reports go to both our senior leadership team and our board of trustees and have been a key factor in securing continued investment in L&D, and for raising our profile at a strategic level.

For more inspiration from Velda, please join her presentations at the Learning Technologies Conference 2015

About Addaction

As one of the UK’s largest specialist drug and alcohol treatment charities, Addaction changes lives. It strives to ensure that every person with drug and alcohol problems has access to the best services and support to enable them to change their lives and unlock their full potential. Addaction does this in more than 100 locations across the country from Aberdeen in Scotland to Penzance in the South West, using 1,600 staff and volunteers. For more information visit

About the Charity Learning Consortium:

Consortium members save twice as much money on L&D compared to non-members in the sector; are twice as likely to report positive changes in staff behaviour and almost three times more likely to report that using learning technologies has improved their organisation’s productivity.

More than 120 charities, housing associations and not for profits already benefit from collaborating with our unique organisation. To find out more please join us on 4 March 2015 – or connect with us on twitter @charitylearning. We also love to chat, so do please give us a call on 08451 707 702