The Gender Specific Mentoring Model used in this toolkit is one practised by TWP. The model is built for organisations and individuals mentoring in the community and as well as in prisons. This model can also be used across these two establishments as a transition support for women leaving prison. This model has been used throughout the Together Women Project as a Peer Mentoring Programme for female offenders in the community and those returning to the community from prison.
TWP Peer Mentoring Service
The goal of the TWP Peer Mentoring Service is to promote confidence and positive change amongst female offenders. This is achieved through connecting service users with Peer Mentors within the wider TWP services. The Peer Mentoring service is a voluntary decision for both mentors and mentees.
Upon entry into TWP as a service user, women are asked if they would either like a mentor or would like to become a mentor at some stage of their participation. These decisions are built into their support plan and reviewed routinely to reassess needs and any changes to their interests. Service users who express an interest in becoming a mentor are offered the opportunity to attend a five-week training programme. If the training in completed, the potential mentors undergo an interview and induction into the role.
Likewise, service users who express an interest in having a peer mentor have this built into their existing support package and are matched and given the opportunity to speak to a mentor.
The Peer Mentoring relationship is structured and led by the mentee. The aim of this model is for the mentor and mentee to build a trusting relationship which is positive and builds confidence for both the mentor and mentee. The mentor and mentee put together a support and action plan for the mentee which is surrounded by the mentee’s support needs. This support and action plan gives the relationship informal direction and establishes a structure and agreed expectations between the mentor and mentee. The TWP Peer Mentoring service has been successful, with a large proportion of service users requesting a mentee and furthering progressing to becoming peer mentors. In some cases, peer mentors have gone on to progress their skills and become paid support staff within TWP.