Peer Mentor Support Project
A story by Fairway Fife
We provided regular activities via the support of Peer Mentors to those with Learning Disabilities, living in Fife. This enabled parents, carers and their families to have respite and to allow them to pursue their own interests.
What Peer Mentor Support Project did
We recruited a further 9 Mentors to add to our existing Volunteer Mentors who mentored our young adults when attended regular activities and events over the period. We have continued with our same staff team which has been very beneficial as they were able provide a consistent experienced professional support to the Mentors and ultimately the Mentees.
Activities and events took place on average 4 times per week, with 4-8 persons at each event. The activities and events ranged from cinema visits, biking, swim/sauna sessions, shopping trips, go-karting, theatre, healthy cooking sessions, sand art, Zumba and other fitness sessions, local community groups such as Green Space Dunfermline, where they helped to plan and improve the local community areas. We also involved some basic training sessions such as first aid, food hygiene and wheelchair management.
Parents/carers reported that they visited friends, joined and art class, retail therapy, chilled and had adult time with their other half, spent quality time with another dependent (son/daughter). All parents carers reported that the time had been very precious and had allowed them to recharge their batteries safe in the knowledge that their son/daughter was safe and enjoying themselves too, as well as making friends and having new experiences.
Two parents also reported that the involvement with Fairway Fife had increased their daughters confidence enabling them to be more independent whilst in the home and in the local community, walking to the shop themselves, and now self-travelling on public transport between set routes.
We ran a tailor made activity programme comprising of Zumba and circuit training indoor, which made it more accessible, and introduced the social side of exercise with friends and resulted in being a significant motivating factor for all of those involved. The girls enjoyed being part of an all-female group that they are familiar with which made them feel at ease, the instructor was great at motivating the girls and extremely experienced with working with all kinds of learners. These sessions were fun and took place in our premises, allowing for a relaxed and exclusive environment.
Girls were given the opportunity to experience other community facilities such as, the swimming pool, leisure centre's, gym, cycling, karting and much more. They also had the opportunity to try new activities and also go to a private health club for a swim, sauna and steam room, which was a new experience for them all. This encouraged a sense of self pride and well-being, enabling them to feel comfortable in those kind of surroundings.
As (E) was trying to lose weight and maintain a healthier eating programme, she was great attender to these classes. Although at first she found them difficult and not always enjoyable, she continued to attend until she finally found the activity she enjoyed most and through participation, the positive experience this brought about.
Visually you could see her appearance improve, as well as her confidence level and personal demeanour, she and those close to her were delighted with the results.
The parents were delighted with how well she did and regularly commented on her improved level of confidence. She now continues with her activities but also enjoys going shopping for new clothes as well as taking part in the pamper days, getting her nails done and learning about how to wear make up properly etc.
Thinking about the good and bad things that make up your quality of life, how would you rate the quality of your life as a whole?
‘Fairway Fife has been life changing not just for her but for us as a family’, ‘I no longer feel guilty if I do something on my own, as I know that my daughter has her own leisure to participate in. This is life changing for me’.
Has the service Fairway Fife offered, helped you in having control over your daily life?
Yes I can pursue my own social life without feeling guilty and when I do spend time with my daughter (which is often) it’s because I want to – not because I have to!’
I work part time and when things were really bad I thought I might have to give up work. This is no longer an issue as I am free to go swimming, shopping and out with friends etc. on evenings and weekends’
Does Fairway Fife contributed to you to having a better quality of life?
‘Yes, absolutely, we are less stressed and can actually pursue activities as individuals as well as a family. My daughter life has been enriched and she is much happier and engaged
What Fairway Fife has learnedThe fund has enabled us to offer an increase in events and activities, facilitated by experienced staff who are familiar to Mentees and Mentors. It also gave a sense of confidence to parents who felt relaxed knowing that the staff knew their son/daughter and would ensure their safety and enjoyment. We have learned from this that staff contact and engagement with families and carers is vital to overall success and engagement.
We recognise that we need to be more professional in our approach to ‘marketing’ so are looking to develop a database that will allow us to distribute our newsletter and other general information more readily, this will also help with distribution to more out reaching organisations via local area co-ordinators and learning disability teams in NHS and Social Work.
Our referral process was a bit long winded so has been simplified to enable families/carers or any other parties and the Young person themselves to refer through an easy read form, alongside this we have also produced an easy read agreement for the young adult to sign themselves.