Are you looking for support to get back into work? Then the Peer Mentoring Service from Gofal can help! We chat with Rhiannon about the service…
What’s your name and where do you come from?
My name’s Rhiannon and I’m originally from Brighton but have pretty much lived in South Wales for the last 4 years.
You’ve launched a new peer mentoring service in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. What exactly is peer mentoring?
Peer mentoring provides support, encouragement and advice which usually takes place between a person who has lived through a specific experience (the peer mentor) and a person who is new to that experience (the mentee).
When someone comes to you what’s the process? Where do you meet?
Individuals can directly contact us or they are referred through to us by someone else. We briefly go through an initial eligibility assessment form to see if individuals are eligible for our service. If they are not, we direct them to a more suited service or form of support. If they are eligible, we then arrange to meet with them in a public place where they feel most comfortable e.g. local coffee shop or local community hub.
Is there a creche and/or help with transport costs?
We do not have a crèche but we are happy to meet with individuals in places which have access to a free crèche or look into free childcare sources if the need is there. Transport costs are not covered throughout our mentoring sessions but we aim to travel in order to minimise the amount of travelling undertaken by the individual.
Can people self-refer?
Of course! We welcome all referrals.
I understand that you’re a new service but could you share some success stories?
We have been running for a year now and have a number of success stories. Here is one particular story of success from one of our mentees:
“Before I met with the Gofal Out of Work Service, I had been unemployed for a period of 5 years. My confidence was at an all time low and I was lacking the motivation to get out of the situation I was in. This time period was a result of severe mental health problems, combined with a history of substance misuse. The task of getting back into things again was incredibly daunting and I didn’t know where to begin. All I knew was that I didn’t want to continue with my previous career path which was unfulfilling and had made me miserable.
The support that Kat and Darren at Gofal provided was incredible. They started by finding out about my background, looked at what I was interested in now and then set about trying to achieve it with me. I said that I wanted to work directly with people and use my experience to help others. Based on this, Gofal helped me look at jobs in the support sector and broke down how to go about this into manageable steps.
When an opportunity came up to get on to a back to work scheme, they encouraged me to apply, even establishing the initial contact on my behalf. This led to a 6 month placement with a local housing association. This in turn led to another contract with different organisation, where I now have a role as an Employment Support Worker.
It was also my long term dream to one day become a counsellor and use my experiences to help others. As this is something you need qualifications and training for, Gofal helped me to look through what options were out there. It was something I really wanted to do but I didn’t know how I could gain funding and what I was would be capable of doing based on my previous background.
Once again, Kat supported me to explore the available options and helped me to assess benefits and drawbacks of each one. When I found something I liked, she encouraged and helped me to apply. As a result, I ended up getting a place on a course that starts in the coming academic year and has put me firmly on the path to be to gain the necessary skills and certification to practice.
My situation now is beyond what I thought possible before starting my contact with Gofal. I am in a job that I actually enjoy doing and that makes a difference to people’s lives. I am also excited about the prospect of this new course and what it will mean for my future. Even though it was only a few months ago, my previous state seems very far away. My confidence has returned and I am now optimistic about the future.”
Are there any requirements to accessing your service?
Individuals can access the service if they are aged over 16. We have one service for 16-24 year olds whereby individuals are affected by mental health or substance misuse and are not in formal Education, Employment or Training (NEET). The other service we offer is to individuals 25+ who are also affected by mental health and substance misuse and are either long-term unemployed (have been out of work for 12+ months) or economically inactive.
What’s the name of your service and how would someone get in contact with you?
We are the Peer Mentoring Service and can be contacted via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01443 845975
Click here for the next Sprout Editorial Group meeting.
It’s free and quick to comment below but we recommend signing up with your email or as a guest to keep usernames Sprouty and anonymous (and never post personal details!).
If you want more info on staying safe online, check out our online safety section.