What is a peer mentor?
Many people after receiving support to help them overcome homelessness sometimes like to give something back.
A peer mentor is a volunteer who has experienced the same problems as the people they are supporting – ie they have ‘lived experience’. They are someone who has recovered from homelessness and who would like to help others. A peer mentor is someone who is valued for their abilities and skills and not just for their personal life experiences.
We think that involving people with their own lived experience of homelessness is invaluable in helping people who are still homeless. This is because:
- People with ‘lived experience’ can provide a useful insight into the way BCHA delivers its service. Where necessary they can help BCHA re-think its approach to helping people who are homeless.
- They can relate to those who are still homeless in a unique and special way.
- Their experiences and awareness enables them to support people in a way which shows people that recovery is possible and does happen – a peer mentor becomes a role model.
- People with lived experience have an expertise, which can help build supportive relationships. This is particularly important when offering a service to people with multiple and complex needs.
The role of peer mentors
Peer mentors can give valuable support in a number of different areas: for example:
- They can provide motivation, support and act as a role model
- Support people to attend appointments
- Visit people in prison and hospital
- Provide advocacy and empower people to have their say
- Support people to identify their aspirations and goals
- Support people to get bank accounts
- Offer support about accessing or overcoming issues with benefits and supporting house searches
- Support people to access other services for substance misuse or mental health
Peer mentors and BCHA
- BCHA will give you the same opportunities to develop as other people who work within the service
- We would like peer mentors to help design services as well as deliver them
- We can offer you training and support to help you in your role as a peer mentor
- We will provide you with a lap top, phone etc to help you carry out your role
- As a volunteering opportunity peer mentoring can lead to paid employment
Becoming a peer mentor