By Yvonne Richards
Training and Development Manager
October 27th is National Mentoring Day. Mentoring has a number of benefits for adults and young people alike, but today we are celebrating peer mentoring. If you work with children and young people you’ll already be aware of the important role that their peers can play – and how this influence can either be negative or positive.
You’ll also know that many children and teenagers are unlikely to confide in a teacher or school counsellor when they experience difficulties in their lives. So, who is that children and young people will talk to and who is able to give them the right support at the right time?
Since April 2016, Kidscape have been supporting secondary schools across Wiltshire with our Thrive project. The aim is to harness the positive impact that peers can have on each other by recruiting, training and supporting teams of peer mentors whose role it is to support other young people through challenging times. These peer mentors work on a one-to-one basis with their mentees, helping them to identify the issues and set goals for making positive changes. The relationship is reviewed regularly and when the need for mentoring stops, the mentee is moved on. Peer mentors are a great addition to an organisation’s holistic support for their children and young people, intervening and, hopefully, preventing, low level mental health and wellbeing issues before they become bigger issues.
In the last academic year, 74 young Thrive peer mentors have given their time and skills to support 123 other young people who had been experiencing difficulties with things like their family life, school and school work, friendships, feeling different, confidence, stress and anxiety, anger, bullying and name calling. The support that the mentees received also helped them to improve their self esteem, self confidence, friendships and how happy they felt. Where necessary, mentees were signposted onto other professional services to receive further support. One mentee responded when asked what they liked most about the mentoring: “Knowing she was there for me” and another simply said: “Lottie listened”.
If this sounds like something that your school or youth organisation could benefit from we’d love to hear from you. We are able to equip your peer mentors with the skills, knowledge and confidence that they need to do perform their roles and can work with children and young people from Year 5 up to 6th formers and college students.
Kidscape would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all of the peer mentors with whom we have worked with over the years, not just in Wiltshire but across the country. Like in the starfish story you’ve made a difference to that one!
To find out more contact the Training and Development Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org