Peer Mentoring: Our Approach

Peer mentoring contributes a unique experience and richly enhances the work we do.

Gibran (UK) designed the Peer Mentor Programme to support women and men from a criminal justice background. The aim of the programme is to develop new skills and enhance participants’ existing skills in preparation to support other people with similar experiences. Peer mentoring provides opportunities for ex-offenders to develop a range of skills that are valued in the workplace.

The lives of potential peer mentors are often transitional and although they believe they are ready to engage in peer mentoring, circumstances can and do change for them. The theoretical model that all of our work is based on is that of Hopson and Scully’s models of transition, which endeavour to describe how individuals respond to change, either in their own lives or in their environment. The length of time and the process of transition are different for each individual and sometimes, whilst the outward signs of transition may look very positive, for a small number of individuals it can be difficult to move forward as it brings back so many memories.

The experience of working with peer mentors is often in practice a mirror of the transition theory, and the management of peer mentors involves a sensitive approach whilst balancing the projection of a working ethos so that skills are developed that empower and enable people to learn to work.

Peer mentors generally require additional support and encouragement to raise their self-esteem and self- worth. During this time they are still included in Group Days, NIACE Adult Learners Week and International Women’s Day

The training aspect of ‘learning to work’ and the ‘work ethos’ is often not an inherent skill. It needs to be a ‘learned’ skill and this requires a sensitive approach in addressing issues as they emerge, for example: timekeeping, reliability and appropriate behaviour. Peer mentors undertake 10 hours shadowing a member of staff.

The Gibran team collectively continues to provide significant levels of support and resources to peer mentors. The outreach workers work closely with peer mentors to enable peer shadowing with beneficiaries and this often adds pressure on the outreach worker and their daily working life, particularly in the peer mentor’s early days if they are not on time or miss the beneficiary meeting.

Download the document below to read more about our peer mentoring for ex-offenders scheme.

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