West of England Peer Academy Celebrates Success in Level Two Peer Mentoring Awards

West of England Peer Academy Celebrates Success in Level Two Peer Mentoring Awards

DHI peers Jack and Ron collect their Level 2 peer mentoring awards

DHI Peers from Bristol, South Gloucestershire, and BANES have proudly received their Level Two Awards in Peer Mentoring - marking a significant milestone in their personal and professional growth.

In 2022, DHI, in collaboration with Weston College and funded by West of England Combined Authority (WECA), launched The West of England Peer Academy—a unique training scheme aimed at establishing a training academy to uplift and empower marginalised groups in the region.

This comprehensive and accredited training programme has enabled twenty people to become peer mentors, using their own experiences to provide guidance and support to others facing similar life challenges.

Participants dedicated themselves to achieving a Level 2 Award in Peer Mentoring while also engaging in various activities designed to enhance their employability. These activities included digital skills courses, employment programmes and work placements that contributed to supporting the recovery of others across the region. The scheme has proven successful, with two former peers now leading the programme as paid DHI employees. There are plans underway to expand the training in collaboration with Weston College, the accrediting body for the qualification.

Former peer and current peer Coordinator Carolyn Rogers said: “It is fantastic seeing people on the course grow in confidence. Some people have not been in a classroom for years and are daunted by that but by the end of the course they are confident of their abilities. Everyone should be incredibly proud of all the hard work and determination they put in and now they can continue helping others."

Jack, aged 29, now volunteers as a peer mentor following his Level 2 qualification. “After all the support I had got from DHI I wanted to give something back. I wanted to share my experiences and life is better when you stop! It feels like the hardest thing to do but with the right support anyone can do it. I did it and now with this qualification I feel like I am aiming for something to achieve in the future thanks to DHI and the Peer Academy.”

CEO Rosie Phillips commended the success of The West of England Peer Academy, which was built upon the solid foundation of their peer service, expressing enthusiasm for the future. "The West of England Peer Academy was built on the strong foundations of our peer service. We are really excited that it was a great success and we are keen to carry on building. Peers with lived experience make a big difference to the lives of socially excluded groups in all the areas we work in.”

As part of the project, DHI has also developed an online toolkit and resources, which will help other community organisations working with socially excluded individuals to establish their own peer services. The Peer Academy leverages DHI’s decade of experience in developing peer-led services throughout the South West region.

The West of England Peer Academy is funded and managed by the West of England Combined Authority, led by Metro Mayor Dan Norris.

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