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Peer Mentoring Scheme

Peer Mentoring Scheme

The Peer Mentoring Scheme, (PMS) is an exciting & innovative addition to existing substance misuse services. A Welsh Assembly Government pan-Wales initiative funded by the European Social Fund, the overall purpose of the PMS is to encourage, support and enable current and ex drug and alcohol users to achieve economic independence by gaining sustainable employment.

A team of Peer Mentors has been employed to offer individual, intensive support to people referred to the scheme and, in order to ensure that they are able to meet the diverse needs of the service user group, they have all attended a 12-week bespoke, Agored Cymru Accredited training programme; potential volunteer Peer Mentors also accessed the training which will be repeated from April 2010.

In addition to specific PMS training, Peer Mentors have also had an intensive week of team building and induction, and individual training and development programmes are being formulated in order to extend and consolidate their knowledge, skills and expertise.

The Peer Mentoring Team incorporates an excellent skill mix among its staff, with more than half of the Peer Mentors being ex service users. In addition to the Peer Mentors, the team is comprised of experienced Case Work Supervisors, Training & Employment Workers, an Administrator and a Service Manager.

The PMS is an open-access initiative which aims to provide a warm and welcoming environment within which participants can explore their needs, goals and aspirations. Having identified the input they may need in order to achieve those goals, Peer Mentors will help and support them every step of the way, facilitating their access to programmes aimed at building their confidence and self-esteem as well as developing the essential skills needed for employment.

Networks are being established and developed with a wide range of organisations offering Education and Training, and also Volunteering placements, in order to open up access to the opportunities that participants will need in preparation for the world of work. The ultimate aim of the PMS is to support participants in gaining paid employment, however, supported, understanding and appropriate guidance, training and education are essential if PMS service users are to be assisted in becoming job-ready.

Referral forms are available to agencies and professionals, however, self-referrals are welcomed, as are referrals from family members, friends and individuals affected by, and concerned about, the drug use of others.

In order to be eligible for the PMS, individuals need to be 18 or over and reside in one of the areas covered by the initiative.

Criteria for entering the Scheme are that participants:

  • Have a current or past substance misuse problem
  • Have achieved abstinence or an appropriate level of stability in their drug &/or alcohol use
  • Be committed to making positive lifestyle changes
  • Have the motivation to access appropriate interventions to enable their individual goals to be achieved
  • Are prepared to comply with the requirements of the Scheme

In order for this new and exciting initiative to succeed, it needs to be integrated and to work in partnership with existing service providers. The PMS aims to complement and enhance service provision, and thus to maximise positive outcomes for service users.

The PMS is able to provide real and effective through and aftercare, which has historically been difficult to access for stable substance misusers wishing to make positive changes in their lives. The opportunity to refer individuals who have achieved stability &/or abstinence to a service which can offer needs-led help, guidance and practical support in their journey towards economic independence will also increase capacity in treatment services.

 

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