Learning From Others
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What is Peer Mentoring?
Peers are people who are equal through a shared experience or status – for us, this is being disabled people.
Mentoring refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.
A Peer Mentor is therefore a disabled person with knowledge and experience, who helps and advises a less experienced disabled person.
In this case we mean people who themselves have been in receipt of a Direct Payment for some time and would like to support other disabled people thinking of taking up a Direct Payment.
Our Peer Mentors Matt and Anton
‘How is it for you?’ project
All of our Peer Mentors have been fully trained by Helen Sanderson Associates, who are a renowned national training organisation and have worked closely with the Department of Health to produce training and publications around Personalisation and people being in control of their own lives.
What do Mentors do?
Mentors listen, support and provide information to Mentees. They may give some guidance and perhaps question the Mentee in a safe way.
Mentors also support you to speak up for yourself or Self - advocate and help you to make plans for the future, e.g. Support Plans.
The Peer Mentors will talk to you about the process, procedures and benefits of using a Direct Payment or Personal Budget. All of the Mentors have experienced it for themselves and want to support other people now going through the process
How will the Mentor work?
Mentors work directly with Service users, providing an opportunity to discuss your thoughts and ideas in a safe, supportive, confidential and non-judgmental way. These discussions may lead to:
- Developing your aspirations into personal goals that can be achieved
- Recognising skills you never realised you had and / or developing skills further
- Examining opportunities open to you
- Making life changing decisions
- Changing your mind about a current lifestyle choice
- Doing nothing - sometimes when an issue is discussed, no further action is required.
- Mentors sometimes work with Service User to prepare them for meetings. Prior to the meeting the Mentor may support a you by:
- Making suggestions and offering ideas
- Working with you prior to meetings to help consider all the issues and be clear about what you want to say
- Empowering you to voice your views, perhaps by giving a chance to practice out loud what you want to say
- Establishing the degree and nature of support that you require in order to express your view
The Mentors can also support you in writing your own Support Plan and advice you on what you may need to include or think about as part of your planning cycle.
Where and when might Mentors work with Service Users?
- In the Wilts CIL office
- On the telephone
- By email
- As part of a Peer Support Group meeting
- Occasionally at another venue
This will be at a time arranged to suit the Mentor and Service User and will be part of the Mentoring Contract that will be developed by Wilts CIL to define the work.
What is a Support Plan?
You can find out what has been happening recently on the Peer Mentoring Training by going to the Helen Sanderson Associates site and reading their blog page.
What is a Mentoring Contract?
This is a contract drawn up between the Mentor, Service User and Wilts CIL, to state:
- What it is hoped the Mentoring relationship will achieve
- What help the Servicer User will have
- What the desired outcomes are
- What timescale the Mentoring will be conducted over
First Group of Peer Mentors graduate!
The first group of Peer Mentors to complete their training in supporting Self Directed Support Users with support planning are pictured below receiving their certificates from Geraldine Bentley, Director of CIL and tutor of the course, with Alison Short (not pictured) from Helen Sanderson Associates. This innovative scheme is funded by the Department of Health National Volunteering Fund for 3 years and is part of Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living (CIL) commitment to use the expertise of disabled people in peer relationships to assist others as volunteers.