Cohort 4 have been busy working with Warwickshire’s House Project team to deliver peer mentoring training to a really inspiring group of young Peer Mentors for their Leaving Care client group. We’ve also finished a first draft of a Peer Mentoring Handbook for House Project and the Warwickshire County Council’s Asylum Seekers & Care Leaver team. What a pleasure to be asked for our expertise in this area to develop the capacity of young people from diverse communities within our own county. Peer mentoring has been a passion here at Cohort 4 since we started operations six years ago, and our founding director is currently undertaking her PhD research into examining peer mentoring with women who have multiple and complex needs.
Cohort 4 have a suite of OCN Level 3 accredited units from our Reintegrative Mentoring programme – unique to our organisation. As a Social Enterprise, when we deliver training, all income from that delivery come straight back into Cohort 4 to enable us to offer more to our own groups. Our training team take annual leave from their own full time roles to be able to offer this to other organisations and our biggest thrill is to work with individuals who are (peer) mentoring within their own communities. This often takes place where there are challenges to integration within the community and we know that when peer mentoring is managed and supported well, it works.
A mentor is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as an “experienced and trusted adviser”. The core of mentoring has been described by Professor Mike Nellis, University of Strathclyde as, “Someone more experienced guiding, coaching or encouraging someone less experienced in the performance of a task (or role). It is (usually) more formal than befriending but less formal than supervision — and more purposeful than mere “volunteering.”
A Peer Mentor differs from a mentor in that as a peer mentor you may have experienced some of the mentees lived history. For example experience of care or experience of mental ill health or addiction. CLiNKS, the UK membership based organisation that supports, represents and advocates for the voluntary sector within the criminal justice sector defines peer mentoring as, “An initiative consisting of trained individuals volunteering to support people with specific or multiple needs to provide practical advice and guidance. This can take a number of forms such as mentoring, befriending, listening, counselling, advocating or being an advisor. As a Peer Mentor the young people we trained this week will use their experience and knowledge in a positive and helpful way to support the confidence, development and wellbeing of their mentees. Cohort 4 are pleased to be able to work with you to develop and to reinforce your knowledge about your important new roles.
We are looking forward to delivering more peer mentoring training units in Warwickshire and to delivery of our specially adapted OCN Level 2 Accredited Recognition & Respect (R&R) full programme. This will be adapted to meet the needs of a group of 16 – 19 year old female asylum seeking community members in February 2020. Thanks for funding by Crimebeat, the High Sheriff’s Charity, delivered by Cohort 4, of benefit to a valuable group of girls in our community of Warwickshire.