Peer Mentor Support Project
A story by Fairway Fife
We facilitated peer support activities for young people with disabilities. Each week young people with disabilities will be broken up in to small groups and participate in activities that they have chosen. They will be supported throughout the activity by our peer support volunteers whilst their
What Peer Mentor Support Project did
Over the past year we have continued to deliver a service to all of our members and their families, albeit in a different way due to COVID. As we were not allowed to have close contact and a lot of our members isolating due to health reasons as well as lockdown restrictions, we took the activities to our Members. We have delivered over 200 activity/care packs/hampers some examples are;
• arts and crafts materials suited to their interests and abilities.
• Basic food items for them to cook
• Pom Pom making kits
• Pizza party packs with basic ingredients to make pizzas which we supported via zoom, with easy read instructions, then some of them got together on zoom and had a party with music and their pizzas, plus some dancing!
• Easter seed growing kits
• Mr Grass heads so they could grow the grass and then style the hair
We then created little competitions so they could show off their creations on Facebook. We developed our online systems, introducing zoom sessions for singalongs, keep fit sessions, show and tell, bingo, or just general chats, we also used zoom to deliver training to our mentors and keep them engaged.
When delivering the packs, we would stand at a distance and have a chat, or maybe stand I the garden and chat through a window, we also had a schedule of contacting all of our families at least once a week, just to catch up and giving them a listening ear.
Not all members engaged on zoom, so those who did not feel comfortable with that method were contacted via a platform that suited them best, Facebook, Facetime, WhatsApp, phone, text etc.
We remained very active on our social media and when restrictions allowed, did various activities in line with guidelines, mainly consisting of going for walks, picnics, outdoor attractions. This usually consisted of a staff member and a Young Adult as we were limited to households being together.
Providing our Young Adults with individualised activity packs we could tailor them to the specific needs/interests of the individual, which encouraged engagement in the activity as well as being something they could do independently, improving their confidence and giving the family some respite.
What Fairway Fife has learned
The past 18 months have been a massive learning curve for the whole team. We were very much face to face support, but have learned that some of the guys actually enjoy the online platforms such as zoom, facetime etc. This has allowed us to work remotely and built up the team skills and confidence in this kind of working. It has enabled us to reach out to those who may not be comfortable going out all of the time, and allowed us to develop some online activities such as keep fit, singalong, quizzes, bingo, etc that may be useful especially during the winter when some of our members struggle with adverse weather or ill health due to cold climates. It certainly won't replace the contact activities that are so important for learning life skills and having new experiences, but could certainly be in addition to.
Holding training sessions or meetings via zoom have been very well received, cutting down on travel time/expenses as well as generally being more convenient for staff. Zoom has also allowed more partnership working as you can arrange a face to face meeting with little impact on your already busy day.
How Fairway Fife has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has been invaluable to us, especially during these difficult times, we have definitely piloted new ways of working, which has helped us build on our skills and knowledge. We have developed more partnership working and increased awareness of our Charity in the local area. Due to a vast reduction in Government Adult Social Care service provision (down but approximately 70%, with most, not looking likely to regain a service), our referral rate has massively increased over the past month, we have seen a surge of new applications and therefore are looking to employ a manager to focus on sustainability, possibly through SDS, improve awareness and develop the service further.
54 isolated and disengaged young people with disabilities in Fife will engage in regular social activity with other people their own age. They will have supported access to a wide range of different activity options which may be relevant to their current interests or a new experience.
As and when restrictions allowed we did outdoor activities, usually with just a member of staff and the young adult. They would choose where they wanted to go and often took their dog with them too. We also delivered over 200 activity, craft, cooking packs etc to help them have a focus. We kept at least weekly contact with our members and their families, unfortunately it wasn't as we had planned, but as a team we maintained good relationships and supported our members and families as best possible. The staff team worked right through the pandemic, whether it be from home, chatting through a window or delivering hampers. Just prior to Lockdown we carried out 1 overnight stay to Glasgow, when five young adults, 2 Mentors and staff had a wonderful evening and day of pampering, a show and a meal out, finishing off chatting about the day, with everyone buzzing about them having such a great time - Quote 'It was the best night of my life'
Feedback from families; 'Fairways has been amazing texting me regular to see how E is doing, doing regular safe drop activities for E to share with me i.e. pizza making, cake making, pop pom making, art activities. Having a wee doorstop chat! Helping organise a couple of one-to-one activities where possible. E loved her day out to the cinema 1-1 and I know at the minute she would love the chance to be out and about without us. Thanks, you all for all the support you have given us'. 'Lockdown has affected my sons metal health in such a way he can’t sleep. And has shut himself off from the rest of us. His confidence is shattered to the point he is now refusing to go out the door even for a daily walk. It is now a major thing for him. This in return has had a knock on effect on the rest of the family. Fairway Fife has managed to get my son out to meet friends he had not seen for a very long time, this has done loads for his physical and mental health all the time being able to socially distance. Just to get him out lifted my emotions also'.