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Cyfle Cymru Handed a Major Award by Princess Anne

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A peer mentoring and employment project for people in recovery from substance misuse and mental health conditions has been handed a major award for staff training by Princess Anne.

EU-funded Cyfle Cymru – which is led by rehab charity CAIS – became one of only a handful of Welsh organisations to receive a Princess Royal Training Award at a glittering ceremony at St James’ Palace.

Cyfle Cymru earned the accolade for its Peer Mentoring Academy, which helps more than 60 mentors throughout Wales develop their own careers and earn qualifications while they guide, motivate and support others to change their lives.

The gong is regarded as the most robustly-assessed and prestigious award for staff training available in the UK, and is personally signed off by the Princess. Other 2019 winners include corporate giants like BAE Systems, Balfour Beatty, RBS, IBM, GSK and Lloyds Banking Group.

Programme director Lynn Bennoch said Cyfle Cymru’s peer mentors were “fantastic assets” and crucial to the delivery of the project.

“Cyfle Cymru’s success is based on the talents and hard work of our peer mentors – and we are so pleased that our efforts to support the professional development of these staff have been recognised in such a high-profile way,” she said.

“The Cyfle Cymru Peer Mentoring Academy offers our mentors the chance to access further opportunities at work, and to continue to develop their career.  It also delivers results for our project by increasing our capacity and enhancing the outcomes we are able to achieve.

“We’re thrilled that our programme has been recognised by the Princess Royal Training Awards, and that Cyfle Cymru can be counted amongst such an impressive cohort of recipients.”

Cyfle Cymru is delivered by a consortium of mental health and substance misuse charities in North Wales, Powys, Dyfed, Gwent and Western Bay areas – and has already won accreditation from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations for its mentoring and befriending approach.

The programme has supported thousands of people across Wales and helped more than 650 people with a history of addiction and adverse mental health into work.  Many thousands more have taken part in volunteering or earned new work-relevant qualifications as part of their recoveries.

Peer mentor Neil Emery impressed award assessors when they undertook an appraisal visit – and was thrilled to take part in the award ceremony in London. The 41-year-old has been in recovery since 2015, and uses his own experience of heroin addiction to mentor others in Wrexham.

“The Academy has helped me to develop and learn new skills – which has propelled me to a whole new level, not just professionally but personally too,” Neil said.

“I’ve gained the ability to think faster, and make more informed decisions in my personal and work life.  I now have a Level 3 qualification in Advice and Guidance, and am in a position to move on and do so much more than I ever imagined.

“This experience has moulded me into a good member of staff – but also changed me into a man I can be proud of today.”

The Princess Royal Training Awards are delivered by the City & Guilds Group, and celebrate best practice in training and employee development.  All applications are assessed against three hallmarks of excellence by a commission headed by The Princess Royal and seven leading figures in the business and training community.

Other Wales-based winners in 2019 are Tata Steel in Port Talbot, the DVLA in Swansea, Coleg Sir Gar and Ammanford-based Cyfle Building Skills.

City & Guilds chief executive Chris Jones said:

“The work that HR and L&D teams do to train, upskill and reskill teams is critical; helping individuals to reach their potential and find meaningful employment, while supporting businesses in developing the skills for success, and ultimately producing the productive workforce we so urgently need.

“The organisations we recognise today all provide compelling evidence that tangibly proves the value that comes from investing in people.”