Peer mentors share their stories to help others

Peer mentors

Peer mentorsSix young people who faced homelessness are now on the road to a brighter future thanks to an innovative educational programme.

The pioneering peer-mentoring course is a partnership between Kirklees Council and The Base (Alcohol and Drug Service to Young People).

The course raises the young people’s awareness and understanding of issues such as safeguarding, child protection, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual health.

The peer-mentoring course came about when we asked some young people we were supporting if they would be interested in learning new skills and helping to prevent other young people getting into difficult situations.

Having completed the course all six students have grown dramatically in confidence; have real pride in what they have achieved and now have faith in a future beyond the streets and everything negative that entails.

The young people who completed the course received a Diploma in Peer Mentoring and will now use their new skill to deliver lessons to year 10 and 11 pupils across Kirklees. The sessions will cover homelessness as well as the other challenges young people may face as they begin planning for their future. The mentors will talk about their personal experiences and challenges in the hope that they can help other young people avoid getting into similar situations.

To celebrate their achievements and thanks to a generous donation from Fusion and Connect Housing, each mentor was presented with a certificate of achievement by Jacqui Gedman, our director of economy, skills and the environment, before enjoying a meal in a local restaurant of mentors choosing.

Jacqui said:

The first thing that struck me about the Peer Mentoring educational programme is how extraordinary changes can come from extraordinary people and partnerships.

Doing well in education is challenging enough when someone has a family structure; support and the ‘basics’ like housing, food and heating. Imagine not having any of that and then finding the motivation, pride and persistence to achieve an educational aspiration like the Peer Mentors have.

The success of the Peer Mentor programme proves that our new council vision can spearhead change by supporting individuals and communities to do more for themselves and each other, protecting and empowering vulnerable people and collaborating with others.”

The main reason 16 and 17 year olds find themselves homeless is a breakdown in relationships. There are often underlying reasons for this such as abuse, violence and financial difficulties within families.

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