From addiction to apprenticeships; how Dale changed his life


In May 2014 Dale Milne entered Shardale, a residential rehabilitation centre based in Lytham St Annes. His admission to the centre came after 14 years of chronic substance abuse/misuse and marked the start of a life-changing set of events.

Life after rehabilitation

After completing a nine-month rehabilitation programme at Shardale, it was this passion for helping others that led Dale to look for voluntary work. Taking back control of his life, he found a position as a volunteer peer mentor at another centre that had previously supported him, Smithfield Detox in Manchester.

Speaking about the treatment programme, Dale said: “it was in rehab that I recognised that I loved to help others and that I was quite good at it.”

Dale said: “I was offered the placement, and this was the start of my new and exciting working life.”

Training with Realise

After an “excellent” twelve-month placement, Dale progressed into paid employment at Smithfield Detox, and it was here that he first learned about Realise from his colleagues.

Dale explained: “a lot of them had enrolled onto a level 3 health & social care apprenticeship and spoke highly of the course.”

“After speaking to my line manager, it wasn’t long before I too was enrolled onto a level 2 and then a level 3 health & social care apprenticeship and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of learning. The year flew by and being able to gain these valuable qualifications allowed me to then apply for jobs that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do, due to my lack of qualifications.”

Being able to gain these valuable qualifications allowed me to then apply for jobs that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do, due to my lack of qualifications.

Dale talking about the benefits of doing an apprenticeship

I want to say a big thank you to both of my trainers…without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Dale talking about the support he received from Realise

Returning to Shardale

His training and development had already started to pay off and it wasn’t long before Dale found himself back at Shardale – but this time, in a full-circle moment, as an employee!

“During my interview, I made it clear that I was eager to continue learning and developing with Realise and asked if it would be in an issue if I started to undertake a level 2 team leading qualification, given that I would be leading a team of volunteers in my new role. Shardale were extremely supportive and strongly encouraged my development.”

Dale quickly progressed within his new role, strongly benefitting from all the skills he developed throughout his apprenticeship.

It was during this time that the level 5 diploma in leadership for health and social care and Children’s and Young People’s Services was discussed with Dale. Training & Development Officer, Michelle Green, mentioned that he was already performing at a Level 5 standard, and so the most natural thing to do was to transition straight from a level 2 apprenticeship to a level 5.

Dream job

With the support of his line manager, it was agreed Dale’s development would progress into a higher-level apprenticeship. Dale said: “my dream job was always to become a registered manager of a care home and I knew that all of my qualifications would help me meet my goals.”

Through developing his managerial and care-specific skills further, he was able to meet the requirements of a registered manager, as set by the industry regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Dale completed his Level 5 apprenticeship in July 2019 and he has already noticed that a huge range of new prospects have opened up to him as a result. From development opportunities to talks of possible promotions – the world is his oyster!

Praising the continual support, help and encouragement of his Training & Development Officers (TDOs), Angela Mulroney and Michelle Green, Dale said: “I just want to say a big thank you to both of my TDOs throughout my journey so far with Realise. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

A life-changing venture

Summarising the last few years, Dale said: “I now have an extremely supportive and encouraging partner, two beautiful children, a new career, a house that comes with a mortgage, and a life that I actually love. Not bad considering nearly six years ago I was a homeless drug addict that was washing and eating at the local soup kitchens. I’ve remained abstinent from all mind-altering substances since 6 May 2014 and I’ve been able to completely transform my life!”

What to find out more?

If you’ve been inspired by Dale’s mission to take back control and lead a more independent and fulfilling life, consider an apprenticeship yourself! It could open new doors and even change your life.