Through using our Peer Mentoring Scheme, Peter (a mentor) and James (a client) have become good friends. They meet once-a-week and spend this time enjoying each other's company whilst doing a variety of activities.
James was encouraged by his Community Psychiatric Nurse to access the Peer Mentoring Scheme. He was suffering heavily from depression, with no motivation, and isolated himself in his flat. During this period of his life he was binge drinking and smoking heavily, and slept all day and stayed awake at night. He also missed appointments to see his Community Psychiatric Nurse. He said of this experience that his life was 'sad, bleak, dark and very lonely.'
Mental illness had affected James's life in the past, as he suffered from a chronic mental health problem over a two year period. During this time he spent six months in a psychiatric hospital, which he says was a very traumatic and a scary experience for him. He was affected badly by his mental illness, feeling suicidal and was shocked with his condition as he was a university graduate with a good career.
James accessed the Peer Mentoring Scheme and Peter was chosen as his mentor. Together they do a variety of activities such as going for walks, visiting art galleries, enjoying the park, eating out and going for a coffee. All activities are chosen by James. He says that Peter helps by taking him out of his flat and the isolation that he felt.
Spending time with Peter has positively impacted James as they have formed a good bond. He says that he is open, honest and trusts Peter, and that anything he now says can no longer shock him. He also says that Peter has a good sense of humour which helps him laugh.
'It's that quality time, knowing that someone is there for me. It's the feeling that somebody does actually care in the world, after a life of loneliness and isolation, an adulthood of suicidal thoughts, knowing that somebody does care.'
Using the Peer Mentoring Scheme has improved James's mental health as he says he feels 'a lot more relaxed, peaceful, lighter. The darkness in my mind has subsided. My mental health has gone through a huge shift having a peer mentor and I'm happier within myself. The time I spend alone in my flat is now a lot better.'
Peter came to Horton's recovery service having suffered from alcohol addiction. He felt isolated and his health deteriorated to a point where he was given three to five months to live. Peter says that at this point in his life he 'didn't care if he lived or died'. The recovery service gave him lots of additional support from financial and housing. Peter says he is grateful for the amount of support he received during the difficult period of his life and he wanted to give something back. As a result, he was asked to join the Peer Mentoring Scheme to volunteer as a mentor.
James is Peter's first client. He says that he was nervous when meeting James for the first time, but was quickly put at ease. He states that it was important to get to know James and to take time with him, making sure that he will not depend solely on him. This would help James focus get his life back on track.
Peter gives James the lead in choosing the activity they do when spending time together in order for James to feel at ease. In addition to the activities mentioned by James, they also spent Christmas Day morning together, which Peter says he thoroughly enjoyed. The time spent with James helps Peter as well as he says that it 'gets me out and we enjoy each other’s company.'
Peter has seen an improvement in James as he is becoming more independent, meeting new people and socialising, has joined a choir and goes on holiday. He says that 'James has come on in leaps and bounds, I get a lot of pleasure from helping people like James. There is a life out there. We have formed a good bond'. Seeing him steadily getting his life back on track has given Peter pleasure in ensuring that there is a brighter future for James.
This experience as a mentor for the Peer Mentoring Scheme is something which Peter enjoys doing as he feels he is giving something back and feels empathetic from his own experience towards James. In addition he says that the 'job satisfaction is great and the biggest compliment he receives is a 'thank you for a lovely day'.'
As a mentor he is developing his skills and attends training courses led by Horton which helps him improve in the role. This he says puts him 'in good stead and is a tremendous asset' to the job with Horton. Peter is currently enjoying his role as a mentor and is hoping to eventually become a support worker.
Peters own mental health has come a long way as during a period of addiction he did not care about life, only interested in where he could find his next drink. Now free from addiction, he says that his pride, self-esteem and confidence has come back. The role as a mentor helping James has helped himself 'come on in leaps and bounds' too.