Evaluations Into Peer Advice
Prison-based Peer Advisor Programme
Evaluated by: JH Consulting
Examining a range of literature; SGT Peer Advice programme monitoring and evaluation reports and data; wider research into peer support in prisons and the prison environment; relevant Government documents; visits to five prisons which included on site discussions with 70 Peer Advisors, 26 clients and 19 prison and SGT staff; additional semi structured discussions and/or email interviews with Governors, senior managers, front line prison staff, SGT delivery and management staff, OMU, HMPPS, other organisations (Shannon Trust, University of Greenwich), 7 Peer Advisors who are now released – 6 in the UK and one in the USA, 3 prisoners training/trained as Peer Advisors through Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) from prison
Project overview: The St Giles Peer Advisor programme is delivered in over 30 prisons and youth offending institutions across England and Wales. The Bell Foundation, through its Language for Change initiative, part funds the programme in 3 prisons in London and the South East of England. The St Giles Peer Advisor programme enables prisoners to achieve Level 3 or 4 qualifications in Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG), and to gain the skills, knowledge and experience to become a Peer Advisor. Trained Peer Advisors provide practical and emotional support to other prisoners (clients), from the unique position of “someone who’s in the same boat” and through relationships of trust, empathy and mutual respect.
- Figures for May 2017 show that in one month 3,771 clients were provided with 1,003 hours of one-to-one sessions.
- From 2015 to July 2017, a total of 529 Peer Advisors have trained or are in the process of training. Numbers of Peer Advisors in each prison vary between 2 and 53. Two thirds of the 34 prisons have at least 10 Peer Advisors
- Of the total of 529 Peer Advisors, 284 (54%) are fully qualified. The majority of the remaining Peers are in the process of qualifying.
- The Level 3 or 4 qualification delivered through the Peer Advisor training is higher than that available through prison education, providing progression which “really gives you something to get your teeth into and focus on”. This engages and motivates prisoners, providing “a real sense of achievement” that helps to address the lack of positive focus and self-esteem that affects many.]
- St Giles’ world leader Social Impact Bond has reduced re-offending rates in Peterborough by nearly 10%, using the Peer Advisor model.
- Client feedback and monitoring data on interventions provided to clients show that it is the combination of trust, empathy, listening along with practical, skilled information, advice and guidance that is particularly powerful.
- There is significant evidence that Peer Advisors reduce incidents of self-harm and even suicide in this particularly vulnerable part of the prison population, as underlined by prison staff.