“An important feature of the St Giles Trust is that there is a multiplier effect whereby benefits that accrue to individuals from their work as Peer Advisors are matched by benefits to the recipients of their advice”.
Peer Advice Project: An Evaluation – Institute for Criminal Policy Research (2009).
St Giles Trust are currently delivering Through the Gate Services for Purple Futures in HMP Wealston in West Yorkshire. 3SC work with St Giles Trust to support and to contract performance manage the service.
As part of the Through the Gate service, St Giles Trust has implemented a very successful Peer Adviser Programme. The programme has a proven track record and is based around the City & Guilds Level 3 Advice and Guidance qualification, through it they create qualified and experienced peer advisors who carry out with the Trust and their partner agencies. The Trust has mainly developed this with ex-offenders, running the programme within the prison.
St Giles Trust have used this approach with various contracts working with other very disadvantaged people, with great success. A key factor in the success of their custodial resettlement programmes has been the embedding of their Peer Advisor programme in delivery. Their ability to recruit, train and employ offenders as peer advisors provide their services with a pool of professional, qualified offenders who through decisions to make positive changes to their own lives are also passionately committed to supporting their peers to be equipped to make similar decisions to their own futures.
Their experience is that involving peer advisers in contract delivery improves levels of engagement particularly amongst the hardest to reach clients and increases the amount of one to one time they can provide them with. They are empathetic, sensitive and responsive to clients’ needs and issues, and promote positive role modelling and change – they are living examples of what their clients can achieve.
“...YOU CAN LOOK AT THEM AND SEE THEY HAVE DONE IT THEMSELVES; THEY HAVE BEEN THERE AND DONE IT AND TURNED THEIR LIVES AROUND. WHAT BETTER THAN SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD THAT EXPERIENCE”
Within St Giles Trust itself over 40% of their staff are ex-offenders and 25% having gone through the Peer Adviser programme. The passion, talent and loyalty that their Peer Advisers bring to the organisation has resulted in them consistently appearing high on the list of the top ‘Sunday Times Best Companies to work for’; as well as winning numerous awards for high quality services to their complex clients, including, their Peer Assist team recently winning an award for Innovation at the No Offence Redemption and Justice Awards.