Turning Point peer mentors are role models who use their own experience of treatment and recovery to inspire, motivate and support others to become substance free. Peer mentoring provides an opportunity to equip those in recovery with extra skills and knowledge to enable individuals to take the next step to access education, training, volunteering and employment in their local community. There are currently over 350 mentors actively supporting substance misuse services at Turning Point across the UK.
Peer mentors take part in an eight week training programme, and from October 2016 our upgraded programme will enable them to achieve a Level 2 Award in Skills for Further Learning and Employment (SFLE) including credits for Drug awareness, Developing Own Interpersonal Skills and Protection and Safeguarding. We currently have 350 people who have progressed through a qualification for peer mentoring.
To support peer mentors to maintain their recovery and wellbeing, it is generally advised that applicants be free from drugs and alcohol dependence for at least three months before beginning a placement and they must all undertake a thorough risk-screening process which looks at substance misuse, wellbeing, offending history, support networks and boundaries.
Each training programme culminates in a graduation ceremony, which provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those in recovery from substance misuse issues and showcase that recovery is achievable, as are opportunities to develop personally and professionally.
Most services employ a paid Peer Mentor Coordinator and all mentors have fortnightly supervision for the first two months followed by a combination of 1 to 1 and group supervision sessions. Turning Point’s model is designed to bring benefits to both the mentee and mentor; peer mentors are able to develop their skills and confidence to access education, training and employment opportunities in the future (including at Turning Point), whilst using their personal experience to inspire and motivate others to achieve recovery.
"For me peer mentoring is a sense of achievement on my ongoing recovery. Someone was there to inspire me whilst in early treatment when I needed it most. I hope to inspire others in their recovery." Peer mentor
The peer mentoring scheme is adaptable across different sectors beyond substance misuse. Turning Point has run training courses inside prisons for offenders to qualify as peer mentors. They have also trained people with enduring mental health issues who have experience of accessing services to provide help and support to others going through the system, especially during the transition from hospital to the community.
"What my peer mentoring course has given me is an opportunity to help others, a wider understanding of addiction, more confidence and lots of help with my own recovery. I am at this present time volunteering at Turning Point, twice a week helping with a group. I have also been working at a hospital with clients … helping them find their way and giving them support with starting their day programme. The list is endless and I've enjoyed every moment.” Peer mentor
The programme has also been adapted to train Peer Educators in schools, with Year 11 pupils taking part in a four-day training course to teach them how to provide drug, alcohol and sexual health awareness sessions to their peers in Years 8 and 9.
The Peer Educator course consists of three days' drugs and alcohol training and one day of sexual health training. Young people learn about drugs and alcohol education, how to be a peer educator, what it involves and how to devise a workshop session to deliver in their school. The sexual health day, covering sexual health signposting and chlamydia testing, is run by the local sexual health team. The course also benefits from a presentation from the local police service’s schools officer on drugs and the law. Training goes towards an ASDAN (Award Scheme Development & Accreditation Network) award in PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education).
Following training peers provide education sessions to pupils in Years 8 and 9, sometimes as part of schools' 'focus days' or as part of a PSHE lesson. The peers lead the session with support from Turning Point's young people's project workers who will help them deal with any difficult questions or classroom issues.