Essex Peer Support Programme
What it is?
In line with the philosophy of User Voice our Peer Support programme, delivered in partnership with Essex Probation Trust, shows how service users who have turned their lives around can help improve the delivery of Criminal Justice Services.
Since October 2012, this innovative project has contributed to the reduction of re-offending by harnessing the unique and invaluable experience of those who have successfully improved their situation and using this knowledge to support and mentor others.
Therefore, by recognising the changes ex-service users have made to their lives, we are able to help mentors, mentees and criminal justice service providers.
For a more detailed explanation of the benefits of peer mentoring for all those involved, please see the relevant section below.
How it works:
Those who become peer mentors have typically made great changes to their lives and overcome significant hurdles in order to move away from risky and offending behaviour.
It is this first-hand experience of the criminal justice system that we believe makes our mentors some of the best placed people to effectively support their peers.
Becoming a peer mentor firstly means having finished (or nearly finished) your licence/order.
Secondly, potential mentors must complete an OCN Level 2 Award in Peer Mentoring—a recognised mentoring qualification.
Finally, mentors are matched with service users who are currently on licence or a community order.
As the project has only been running for one full year so far we do not have extensive data regarding the outcomes of the programme.
However, initial results gathered from our mentors and mentees are extremely encouraging.
To see some of this information, please see the case studies and quotes below.
**In 2013 Essex Probation committed to providing further support to mentors in the form of employment for successful candidates as Case Supporters. Currently 2 peer mentors that have completed the programme are employed as case supporters within Essex Probation and a further 3 are waiting to start this exciting new post.**
Find out more:
Benefits for mentors and mentees
- For some of our mentors, this is the first time they have engaged in training or gained a qualification.
- The programme enables mentors to gain experience and increase their employability.
- Give something back by helping other service users, which is rewarding both emotionally and practically.
- The benefits of mentoring in their own words:
- “taking part has helped me to stay on the right path”
- “this training has helped me to come to terms with my own past and move on”
- “by doing this training I can get a qualification and I have never had one before”
- “the programme has helped to improve my self-esteem”
- “by coming to the mentoring training I feel less socially isolated and actually feel that I belong”
- Mentees get practical and emotional support, advice and guidance. This includes…
- Receive encouragement and reassurance from those who have experienced the same issues they face
- Get extra support at appointments by mentors attending with you
- help filling in forms/writing letters
- support rebuilding relationships with family and friends
- help finding new social activities
- a non-judgemental listener
Case Study: Mentee ‘Daisy’
Daisy was in breach of her order, homeless, misusing drugs and she said she wanted to get back on track. Since working with one of our mentors she has secured accommodation, successfully completed an accredited programme as part of her community order and is engaging with her probation officer. Daisy is also working with the mentor to take a course, so that she can obtain meaningful employment.
Daisy’s probation officer has offered positive feedback on her progress since she has been working one-on-one with a mentor. The feedback suggests it is the mentoring that is having an enriching influence on Daisy’s daily life.
Case Study: Mentor
The peer mentor course and volunteer work was, and is an excellent opportunity. I was able to refresh old skills and learn some new skills. The training has given me a life far from my old one. I now have opportunities ahead of me and the chance at a worthwhile job in Essex probation. This is an amazing feat but it is still not the best part of my transformation. The best part is I now have the skills and the ability to help others accomplish the things I have done. I would like to take this chance to thank User Voice and anyone else that was involved in this program.
Year One 2012-13:
- Training in all 6 of Essex’s Delivery Units
- 18 service users completed level 2 qualification in peer mentoring
Year Two 2013-14:
- We have been re-commissioned to deliver the programme for another year.
- So far this year we have recruited outstanding new mentors who are looking forward to meeting their mentees in the next phase of the programme
To become a Peer Mentor you need to have completed your order/licence in the last 6 months, or be due to finish in the next 3 months.
To get support from a Mentor you must be on an order or licence to Essex Probation.
To get involved speak to your Offender Manager.