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‘Peer mentors’ aim to inspire fellow youths to beat isolation

'Guided self-help' scheme begins

23 October, 2017

EIGHTY school children are being trained up to help “mentor” their younger peers in a bid to overcome isolation and boost confidence.

The project, run by the Fitzrovia Youth in Action (FYA), Mind in Camden and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, aims to help 160 children in Camden schools in the first year.

The “peer mentors” will aim to build up inspiring relationships with younger children in what is described as a “guided self-help” model. The idea is young people are more likely to listen to people in their age group than adults who they don’t identify with.

Andre Schott, director of FYA, said: “What’s different and exciting about this programme is that it is co-produced with young people, so that it is geared towards their needs, and is youth-led, flexible, fun and safe for all young people involved.”

FYA already runs a similar project specifically for mental health and substance misuse. The teenagers get trained up in how to spot signs of addiction or internal suffering by experts in the field.

Jordan Bennett, who has worked as a peer mentor for that project, said: “I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact of young people helping other young people. I look forward to joining the peer mentoring programme and help make it a success.” The programme is funded by Camden Clinical Commissioning Group and will run until October 2019.

Mr Schott added: “Peer mentors will support mentees to help themselves to do life-enhancing things, such as improve their problem-solving skills, reduce isolation and increase their self-confidence. Peer mentors will also benefit from increased skills in team work, communication and leadership.”

If you, your school or youth club are interested in getting involved in the programme, email Mr Schott at Andre.Schott@ fya.org.uk

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