A group of mentors from the TCA’s Women Only Mentoring project recently attended an annual peer mentoring conference run by the Communities of Recovery project. The conference was a structured learning event, providing participants with a complete picture of how peer mentoring works for people in recovery.
During the event, peer mentors shared their stories of working with others to support them through their recovery. TCA Peer Mentor Danni Whyte revealed that she gained confidence from hearing others share their experiences, and this helped her to prepare and deliver her own speech at an event shortly afterwards.
TCA mentor Theresa Clark reported that she and her colleagues found the event to be a truly inspiring experience. Here is her story:
On Tuesday 27 January 2015 we attended a Peer Mentoring Conference at Hamilton Baptist Church in Lanarkshire. We were made welcome from the start and although we were one of the first there the hall quickly filled up and others joined our table. Our group from TCA consisted of two mentors and two peer mentors.
The conference began with a short film about a peer mentor and how he came into this role. The man was in his early sixties and had been married, but his wife had passed away. Unable to cope with the loss, he had turned to alcohol. After five years his health was suffering and he made a decision to go through detox and take steps towards his recovery.
He was referred to Communities of Recovery and completed a few courses that led to him becoming a peer mentor. The film went on to show him supporting a man attending his first training session in IT. The mentee stated that he found the peer mentoring invaluable.
The next stage of the conference consisted of us working in groups. We were provided with wood and other assortments of materials and asked to make a picture that reflects peer mentoring. The peer mentor in the film was at our table as well as a manager from another service.
Together we came up with a picture that reflected four stages of mentoring and afterwards each table had to describe their work to everyone else. It was a great icebreaker and got everyone in the room involved.
Afterwards, all newly qualified peer mentors were encouraged to go up and give a speech about their journey. Some were short and others went into more detail, they were all interesting and very inspiring to listen to.
At the end of the conference, awards were presented to peer mentors throughout the region. We were also provided with a breakdown of the qualifications they had gained in the process.
The feedback we got from our peer mentors was that they found this to be a positive experience. It also helped one of the peer mentors to prepare a speech that she recently gave at a Public Social Partnerships event.
The experience overall proved that peer mentoring works and we are constantly learning from each other.
The Communities of Recovery project recruits, trains and supports groups of volunteer Peer Supporters to work with other people in recovery across Lanarkshire. The people that they support may still be accessing treatment, or may just be about to leave treatment. Their Peer Supporters work with these individuals to help them to integrate back into the local community by supporting them in training, education, support groups and social activities.
Find out more about the Communities of Recovery project
Find out more about the Recovery through nature project
Find out more about Women Only Mentoring at the Tayside Council on Alcohol.