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Peer mentoring service to be piloted

Bridges Project is to launch a new peer mentoring service for young people affected by other people’s substance use.

The project is made possible following a £20,421 grant from Midlothian & East Lothian Drugs & Alcohol Partnership (MELDAP) and a £9,000 National Lottery award from The National Lottery Community Fund. Named Listening Peers, it will see previous Bridges Project clients aged 25 and under with lived experience of other people’s substance use mentor young people aged 13-21 in East Lothian who are currently affected by this.

Except from a Listening Peers Coordinator, who will supervise the service and also mentor some young people herself, all Mentors involved will be volunteers. They will be assigned one young person at a time and meet them weekly for informal activities that will help them build a relationship and encourage the Mentees to open up. Some examples of activities can be going for walks, utilising community facilities or going to the cinema.  Young people will be able to access support for as long as they need.

In addition to the informal weekly activities, the Mentors will also be able to signpost their Mentees to other specialist services in case they need further support. They will also hold consultation groups where the young people will discuss coping strategies for overcoming stress caused by being affected by other people’s substance use. This will inform a guide that will be distributed across East Lothian for other young people in similar situations.

Bridges Project hopes that Listening Peers will be able to provide a range of benefits to young people affected by other people’s substance use. Firstly, it will give them respite from challenging living conditions at home. It will also ensure that these young people will have a supportive role model who gives them confidence. Furthermore, it will help them tackle feelings of stigma and discrimination and provide them with fist-hand advice on overcoming challenges related to being affected by other people’s substance use. Finally, young people who use the service will be able to access other services more easily, which can help prevent any future harm.

Emma Scarcliffe, Bridges Project’s CEO, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received this funding to set up our new peer mentoring service for young people affected by others people’s substance use. This is an exciting new service for us to implement at Bridges Project and one which will complement the other services we already have in place to inspire young people to build a confident future. This peer led service will enable young people with lived experience to mentor other young people and act as positive role models who not only listen to and understand their concerns but can offer invaluable advice, guidance and support.”

Listening Peers will in the first instance run for a year and the goal is that 20 young people will receive support through the service during that time. If the service proves successful, Bridges Project intends to seek funding to continue it and increase the number of Mentors, and therefore also young people being supported, in the coming year. In the long term, it is also hoped that the service model could also be ‘scaled up’ and replicated across East Lothian.

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