Who we are...
The Community Peer Mentors project is the initiative of Ron Hogg, the Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC) for County Durham and Darlington.
We want to support people who feel they are vulnerable or isolated owing to anti-social behaviour, neighbourly disputes or as victims of crime; perceived or real. This approach is unique in the UK for tackling these issues.
The project also aims to reduce the pressure on frontline services such as the Council, fire service, Police, A&E and GP surgeries by engaging with those who make frequent calls.
Agencies have become increasingly aware that some people feel professionals do not met all their needs leaving them feeling frustrated; leading to a negative impact on their wellbeing and feelings of isolation and vulnerability.
The project began in May 2016; since then we have trained over 90 Community Peer Mentors who are deployed with clients in Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Crook, Spennymoor, Newton Aycliffe, Shildon, Willington, Barnard Castle, Peterlee and Durham City; we aim to have Mentors to work with people across the whole of County Durham by May 2018.
The Project recently received an award by Durham Community Action, for Excellence, for the excellent support we provided for our volunteers. Durham Community Action commented:
Quality and preparations made around training is welcoming and accessible; whilst providing a real quality of experience.
Personal benefits that volunteers gained from the project have led to other volunteering and employment.
Volunteers with a diverse range of skills are actively recruited providing real 'lived experience'.
What we do...
Community Peer Mentors work in pairs to support individuals and establish the root cause of particular issues. We aim to empower and encourage the client to actively engage with the community, and signpost them to the most appropriate support network or other professionals.
Ultimately the aim is to make people feel safe and imrpove the circumstances they have found themselves in.
Interested in volunteering with the project?
No previous experience in volunteering or supporting people is required; all we need are kind hearted and enthusiastic individuals with a willingness to help support vulnerable or isolated people across County Durham and Darlington.
We welcome people from all backgrounds; and life experiences, whatever they are; your past will not automatically be a barrier to you becoming a Community Peer mentor, and your life experience may help others.
What do Community Peer Mentors do?
- Provide a listening ear
- Help clients clarify their needs
- Explore options for resolving situations
- Encourage personal responsibility
- Develop strategies together
- Provide skills and confidence to resolve matters amicably
- Signpost to other services where appropriate
The difference we are making:
- Develop coping strategies
- Create a personal system of support
- Form new friendships and relationships
- Engage in new hobbies or interests
- Contribute more to their community
- Learn strategies and methods for dealing with challenges
- More acceptances of different and conflicting lifestyles
- Take decisions that are important to individuals
What about training?
- We need people with life experiences so whatever your background, whatever has happened in your life do not let this be a barrier to YOU applying.
- No age limits on people who wish to be Community Peer Mentors
- Travel expenses and out of pocket expenses will be paid to volunteers when dealing with cases.
- On-going and additional training is provided free; including NVQs.
The training is held in various locations across the County, and is delivered by trained and experienced facilitators. We offer the choice of completing either 5 evening sessions, held over a 5 week period (each lasting 2½ hours), or 2 full day sessions. The training provides opportunities to learn various mentoring techniques.
Once trained you decide which areas within County Durham or Darlington you would like to be a ‘Community Peer Mentor’.
Your life experiences are very important for this role, whatever they are; so do not think they are a barrier to you becoming a Community Peer Mentor. Come along and help make a real difference!
Download the leaflets:
Get in touch
If you are a resident and feel you are suffering from a neighbour dispute or anti-social behaviour, or if you are interested in volunteering as a Community Peer Mentor, please contact Jim Cunningham for further information, either by telephone or email: