‘It’s all about rapport, relationship’ (Peer Link Mentor)
Peer Link provides a supportive peer mentoring service to adopters with the aim of developing confidence and skills and awareness of the needs of their children. The wider benefits include linking into local networks of support, thereby sustaining placements and improving outcomes for children and alleviating the need for crisis intervention at a later date. It also provides the Peer Link Mentor with an opportunity for engagement and development including training and references. Recipients of the service can be pre-placement adopters, adopters in early placement, or adopters with a placement requiring some additional support.
Families for Children Peer Link Service was launched in the summer of 2018. Adopters were invited to an information session where FFC staff gave an overview of the role and responsibilities. The high numbers of adopters who attended indicated the need for the service. The motivating factor for adopters wishing to volunteer was primarily due to their wish that they could have accessed Peer support during their adoption journey.
Peer Link has been actively running for over 12 months with first allocations in November 2018. Referrals come via social workers and family Support Workers and are considered within weekly referral discussions. There is one coordinator, with administration support.
Currently we have 10 mentors across the South West supporting families. Each mentor has potential to support 2 families although there is some flexibility within this dependant on a number of factors (level of need, family commitments). We have received a total of 30 referrals since its launch with 20 families currently receiving support.
On 18th May 2019, we held our first Mentor Morning. This was attended by 5 mentors.
This was an opportunity for mentors to share cases and resources, discuss areas that are working and areas for development.
The project has required investment of time and energy particularly in early stages. There is careful consideration of whether the referrals are appropriate for Peer Link (and not a replacement of professionals’ service).
Support for our mentors
Our mentors need to feel valued and supported in their role. We understand the importance of having a named key coordinator to oversee the service, develop relationships with mentors and be the link person between professionals, mentors and families that are referred. Supervision for mentors is crucial, ensuring they have regular opportunities to discuss any issues and explore their role. Mentors have peer support via WhatsApp group where they can share experiences, resources and offer informal support.
Successes – Early intervention support: The success of the program comes from capturing adopters at the beginning of their journey, this is a key time in establishing relationships when adopters appear more receptive and open to accessing advice and support. Mentors feel they are most useful at this point, able to share their memories and knowledge, offering emotional reassurance.
Delivering the service: Our Peer Link recognises the need to be flexible and creative in the way we offer and deliver support. This reflects the individuality of the needs of each family which are referred to our service.
If you feel you could support other adopters a become involved as a Peer mentor please contact us on 01364 645480.