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Peer mentoring in criminal justice: possibilities and perils

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University of Chester

Warrington Campus, Lance Dobson Hall

Crab Lane

Warrington

WA2 0DB

United Kingdom

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This FREE lunch and learn seminar will explore the practice of employing people with lived experiences in the delivery of criminal justice and welfare services. A light lunch of sandwiches and refreshments will be provided.

In 2012 the UK government outlined plans for every prisoner to be met upon release by a mentor ‘to help them get their lives back together’, more specifically, to make ‘good use of the old lags in stopping the new ones’ (Grayling, 2012). Peer mentoring schemes are now an increasing feature of the criminal justice landscape. Indeed, it is estimated that peer mentors constitute as many as 92% of offender mentors in parts of England (Willoughby et al., 2013). This development forms part of a larger drive by several countries to transfer welfare and justice roles from the state to the community and voluntary sector (Corcoran, 2012). Despite such growth, little research has been done in the field.

This seminar presents findings from a study of four very different projects delivering peer mentoring in the penal voluntary sector, highlighting some of the potential and pitfalls within the practice. It also introduces the work of a leading peer mentoring project: Community Led Initiatives.

The event aims to advance knowledge of peer-led approaches and identify gaps in our knowledge. An additional aim is to establish a network, to connect stakeholders in disparate fields.

This seminar is open to anyone with an interest in peer-led approaches but will be of particular interest to practitioners, volunteers, people using services, policy makers, students and academics within the fields of social work, criminology and criminal justice, policing and health and social care.


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Gill Buck is senior lecturer in social work at the University of Chester. Her research interests include peer led services, criminal justice, youth justice and the voluntary sector. She is an advocate of those with lived experiences of human services driving their improvement. Before working in research and teaching, she spent eight years as a social worker in a youth offending team.

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Matthew Kidd and Peter Atherton are co-founders of Community Led Initiatives (CLI). Pioneered by ex-offenders, the CLI approach provides mentoring and group services to people who want to move away from offending and substance misuse. They aim to build stronger communities by delivering non-patronising, proactive and positive services that achieve results for clients and their families. CLI is one of the first organisations in the country to offer the Level 3 Award in mentoring offenders and those at risk of offending.

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University of Chester

Warrington Campus, Lance Dobson Hall

Crab Lane

Warrington

WA2 0DB

United Kingdom

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