Peer Mentoring Opportunities for Looked After Children and Care Leavers

This report and its recommendations are the result of a small project exploring services offering and

research around peer mentoring and how such practice could be developed to improve outcomes for Looked After Children and Care Leavers in Scotland.


i. The single most important voice is that of Looked After Children and young people and Care Leavers who tell us that they "know what it (being in care) is like" and that they can say "we know how you (mentee) feel and we actually do". Care Leavers believe that they could have benefitted from being supported by someone "who's been there", who had a "shared experience" which would have helped them understand and know "what we were going through" (Care Leavers and ex-Care Leavers)

ii. Corporate Parenting responsibilities should now be embedded in practice and the direct involvement of Looked After Children and Care Leavers in service development is established in many local authorities. These Are Our Bairns (2008)(10), highlights for the Corporate Parenting Family ".. the difference that one individual can make.." For those who are, or have been looked after, a peer mentor might be that individual. It should be restated that any peer mentoring relationship must be voluntarily entered into by both parties.

iii. The limited research around peer mentoring for Looked After Children /Care Leavers does suggest that mentees appreciate it when mentors can fully understand their experience.

iv. Care Leavers already provide support and mentoring to vulnerable children and young people even if they are not specifically "looked after". There is a significant level of interest in, energy for and commitment to developing peer mentoring opportunities from adults, professionals and young people. This enthusiasm and the current momentum should be recognised and channelled to further peer mentoring as a relevant strategy which could improve the lives of Looked After Children and young people and Care Leavers.

v. It should be acknowledged that related projects and programmes already exist and these could provide knowledge, experience and resources to guide the development of "peer mentoring" services.

vi. The value of peer mentoring for Looked After Children and/or Care Leavers, both as mentors and mentees, needs to be properly researched and evaluated over time. There would seem to be value in having a consistent approach to review and evaluation established from the outset so that information from projects and programmes can be collated and compared. There may well also be value in seeking funding for an "overview programme" instead of a number of small projects each seeking its own slice of a small pie.

vii. The development of peer mentoring opportunities for Looked After Children and/or Care Leavers might also be timely as there seems to be growing interest elsewhere in the UK e.g. a significant research project, The Carmen Study, "Developing and piloting a peer mentoring intervention to reduce teenage pregnancy in Looked After Children and Care Leavers (11) is being undertaken from March 2011 to September 2013 involving three Local Authorities in England.


Email: Eliza Brush

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