Simon has been a resident with Pathways for several months now and with one eye on the future and hopefully returning to employment he currently undertakes several volunteering assignments to maintain his knowledge and experience. Simon’s volunteering is very much around his areas of interest and previous knowledge. He provides IT expertise to local Sue Ryder charity shops and is an office based helpline advisor for UNLOCK.
Simon’s interest in volunteering led him to Pathways’ Inspiring Change project and after undertaking an induction he is now a Peer Mentor. Simon described the need for peer mentors at Pathways:
“People who have spent a long time in prison struggle to get into the community. Many of them were sentenced before the internet existed, so they need a helping hand now.”
So far, as a peer mentor Simon has accessed training for himself on dealing with difficult behaviour, confidentiality and benefits, so that he can support clients more effectively. Practical activities he has carried out have included helping another client with basic computer skills, so that he could search for jobs online and bid for homes, supporting someone to get a library card and showing them the breadth of services now available from a library and he has helped new clients to familiarise themselves with the local area and find food banks, etc.
Some of his support roles are short term, but he has just taken on a longer term partnership with another client. Helping them to learn to read through a one to one reading scheme designed specifically for adults who can’t read. When Simon finds his own accommodation he will still be able to continue in his role as a peer mentor, providing of course he hasn’t found employment to fully occupy his time.