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The new hub will bring new opportunities and help local people overcome adversity
“I just want to say thank you. Recovery. Second chances.It’s all possible.”
These were just some of the moving words from one of the newly qualified Peer Advisors at the relaunch of the Yorkshire Peer Hub, run by St Giles and funded through the National Lottery Community Fund. The Peer Advisor Programme offers those who have overcome disadvantage such as homelessness, criminal involvement, poor mental health and substance abuse the opportunity to use these experiences to help others going through it now, building a brighter future for local communities.
The event, held in Leeds, celebrated the ongoing work and marked the start of our plans to expand our existing programme to enable more people to get involved, and to work with a wider range of organisations within the region, to reach even more of the people who need support.
The Yorkshire Peer Hub has already helped over 50 people take the big step of turning their past into a future through the Peer Advisor Programme, enabling people to gain an NVQ Level 3 certificate in Information,Guidance and Advice – equivalent to an A-Level. This provides an opportunity to harness their lived experience with professional training and work experience to help access future employment. Together with the support of the Hub Team, Peer Advisors have been actively providing advice and support to people in need throughout Yorkshire.St Giles believes that people with ‘lived experience’ hold the key to positive change in others. This includes people who have past experience of homelessness, mental health issues, substance misuse and involvement in the criminal justice system. 40% of the paid staff at St Giles joined us through this route and we’re one of the only charities to adopt this approach.
Rob Owen OBE, St Giles Chief Executive, said, “we’ve always known that people who have been there themselves are the best placed to help others make positive changes in their lives. We have professionalised our Peer Advisor Programme over the years and now thousands across the country have been trained
and helped many more in the process, creating a ripple effect in local communities. We’re extremely grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund for supporting our hubs and enabling us to extend the Peer Advisor Network across the UK.”
Several speakers shared their stories and their hopes for the future of the Yorkshire Peer Hub. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery, without which the hub would not have been possible, Hannah Paterson, UK Portfolio Manager for the TNL Community Fund, explained why helping St Giles had been important for the fund. Deputy Lord Lieutenant for West Yorkshire Major Stan Hardy showed his support for the work carried out by St Giles at the event sharing that, “You are a shining light of showing how things should be done.”
Then it was onto the newly qualified peer advisors to talk to the audience about what they had been through to achieve their qualification. Peer and Placement Coordinator Dane Holdsworth started things off, telling those newly qualified, “I felt part of a family...St Giles offered me that. Each peer gives something towards St Giles.”