Peer Mentoring

Posted on 02-03-2016 by David Viney

Here at Birmingham LGBT we are very excited at the response we have had to launching the New LGBT & MSM Volunteer Sexual Health Peer Mentor role.

From my own experience of attending and then being trained up as a facilitator of the Positive Self-Management Program (PSMP) and Expert Patients Program (EPP); I have firsthand experience of what a life changing experience it can be to have someone that has lived experience (Peer Mentor) supporting you (Peer Mentee) explore questions they may have related to their gender, sexuality or sex-life.

The Volunteer LGBT Peer Mentor roles will be joining the new sexual health team to work across all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender & men who have sex men communities in Birmingham, as well as referring into the new specialist sexual health services offered by Birmingham LGBT. Being our Thursday Clinic, Trans Clinic & 1:1 Support for Trans Men and Women; Well Woman Clinic for Lesbian and Bisexual Women & 1:1 Support; and our South Asian, Black African and African Caribbean MSM work. Over the coming months you might see us out and about on the scene in our bright Umbrella Sexual Health yellow t-shirts, please do not hesitate in saying ‘hello’ and we are only too happy to answer any initial questions you may have.

Volunteer Peer Mentors
LGBT community members will be paired with Trained Volunteer Peer Mentors to share experiences to support participants to have a happy, healthy sex life and support them to heave greater understanding of looking after their own well-being. They will meet with their Peer Mentee once a fortnight for anything up to an hour and half for 6-8 sessions.

Some possible themes Peer Mentoring will cover are:
• A life review exercise
• Intimacy and the joy of LGBT sex
• Sexual Health exploring myths & facts
• Alcohol, party drugs & sex
• Coming Out or Staying In
• Dealing with Difficult Emotions
• Explore roles you play in relationship
• Build your assertiveness & communication skills

Confidentiality: Everything that is shared in the Peer Mentor relationship is kept confidential unless we are immediately concerned of the Peer Mentees safety or that of others, in the first instance we will try to make them aware of our concerns.

Commitment: As a Volunteer Peer Mentor you will meet with the Peer Mentee once a fortnight for anything up to an hour and half for 6-8 sessions, so all we can ask is that you commit to seeing the mentoring relationship through from beginning to end, in order to build a secure match and a relationship where trust can be developed.

Place: Peer mentoring is not a ‘befriending service’ as such; Peer Mentors are not here to help their Peer Mentee move house or to go out for dinner with. The Peer Mentee will meet with their Peer Mentor at Birmingham LGBT Centre, or a public place, at a specific time once a fortnight for an agreed period of time.

Respect: There is both the trained Volunteer Peer Mentee and the Peer Mentor involved in the Peer Mentor relationship, Birmingham LGBT will try to match you to what is felt to be a good match of someone who will work well with your background and experience.

Time: As we all know, relationships take time to build so we would ask that you meet with your Peer Mentor twice. If either of you feel this is not going to work by the second occasion we will then try and match them with another Volunteer Peer Mentor.

How will the LGBT or MSM community refer?
Once we have a pool of Volunteer Peer Mentors we will be happy to take referrals from Individuals; GPs and the NHS; voluntary or statutory services, or colleges and universities. In the interim period whilst this service is being developed, we have a full LGBT & MSM sexual health team that can provide you 1:1 specialist support and answer questions you may have related to your gender, sexuality or sex-life. We also have the Sexual Health clinic, Umbrella counselling, a range of health and well-being services and activities at Birmingham LGBT that we can refer you into, which ranges from a well-being 1:1 support session to a LGBT yoga group.

Volunteer Peer Mentoring what is in it for me?
Being a Volunteer Peer Mentor allows you to take an active step in giving something back to the Birmingham LGBT community, this project allows you to do just that and will look great on your CV when looking for work. Birmingham LGBT will equip volunteers with the skills and knowledge they require to become a Volunteer Sexual Health Peer Mentor. Further to this we will offer ongoing Supervision whilst in the volunteer role and you will be able to access further training available at Birmingham LGBT.

Want to know more? For more information about gaining Peer Mentoring or to be a Volunteer Peer Mentor please contact Joel the Sexual Health Peer Mentor Coordinator by calling 0121 643 0821 or emailing joelkorn@blgbt.org