Peer Mentoring service helping people move forward
A unique service is empowering people to overcome drug and alcohol misuse and to move forward into paid employment.
Peer Mentoring Wales is a European funded Pan-Wales venture and is delivered by DrugAid in Caerphilly and also across Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, RCT and Merthyr Tydfil.
It offers a life-changing approach to tackling substance misuse, and one of the ways in which they do this is by providing opportunities for people who have experienced drug and alcohol problems, but are in recovery, to become volunteer or paid peer mentors, supporting others who are starting out on the same journey.
Peer mentors, who when qualified receive an Agored Cymru Peer Mentoring Qualification, have proved to be an extremely important resource in helping others sustain recovery and move away from their previous lifestyles. They make a difference in being available as someone who understands the problem of substance misuse, is willing to listen and can help others access activities, training and employment opportunities, eliminating barriers and minimising the restrictions on life that substance misuse can impose.
Jim, 31, had struggled with alcohol for many years before he successfully completed a detoxification programme. Now a qualified paid peer mentor, he says the service has been key in his recovery and has enabled him to discover himself once again.
“My problems involved alcohol and I found myself in a rut”, said Jim, who lives in Caerphilly County Borough.
“It came to the point where I needed to do something about it, I had always worked but it wasn’t really possible for me to do so anymore because of the drinking, so I made the choice to do a detox programme.
“When it ended I completed a relapse prevention course, but I was really interested in finding out more about what peer mentoring had to offer.
“I had never even heard about it before, but as I began to get involved in the groups and took up some offers of training, I found my confidence and self esteem improved and I wanted to do more and more things.
“It was a really easy environment to be in with like-minded people who understood your past and made you feel Ok if you wanted to share anything.
“It was also good to be in a group environment because when I had been drinking I spent a lot of time on my own. For me the support there made me better able to deal with things, and I started to discover parts of myself that I thought I had lost – a caring part of me.
“Once I completed the accredited training course I became a volunteer peer mentor myself, and when a paid job came up I went for it and was lucky enough to get it.
“Being a peer mentor became the first thing I had really cared about for a long time.
“One day we were leaving a group and someone said thank you to me and in truth I couldn’t remember the last time anybody had said that to me.
“This experience has been so important and has given me an understanding that there are many different solutions to alcohol or drug misuse, and so many different opportunities through Peer Mentoring Wales, something for every interest.
“I would ask anyone considering the service to please recognise that there is no difference between you and us as peer mentors; we have been where you are, we are just a little further on the journey and here to help you along”.
Jim is now working hard as a paid member of staff helping other people who are overcoming substance misuse to have the same opportunities to develop skills, friendships and to find a way back to normality
Joan Brown, manager of the Peer Mentoring Service said: “It’s hard to put into words just what an impact being involved with Peer Mentoring Wales has on the lives of our participants, and what a privilege it is to be part of such an innovative aftercare service. We literally see people’s lives changing as a result of the support and help they receive from peer mentors, and the lives of the families and loved ones of our service users are also changed in positive and powerful ways.
“There is such commitment in the team, and every member of our staff is passionate about what we’re doing, largely because we see the results of our interventions every day. The changes in people’s confidence and self esteem, and the resultant dramatic changes in their personal aims, goals and expectations is inspirational”.
Peer Mentoring Wales can offer support to anyone who has experienced substance misuse or has been affected by the drug or alcohol use of somebody close. The service also works hard with local employers and organisations to create job and volunteering opportunities in the community.
If you would like to find out more please contact Peer Mentoring Wales on 01685 721991.Follow @CaerphillyObsvr