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Cyrenians is an independent Scottish Charity with an outstanding track record in pioneering creative solutions to the contemporary problems faced by people on the margins of society, such as; homelessness, poverty, deep unemployment, recovery from addiction and recidivism.
We have an exciting new project which is being delivered to support offenders in North Edinburgh. The Re:d Peer programme is a public social partnership comprising of Edinburgh Cyrenians, EVOC, NHS Lothian, Scottish Churches Housing Action, Health in Mind and Volunteer Development East Lothian.
The partnership has been developed to explore innovative and collaborative responses to reducing reoffending through peer mentors. Cyrenians are the lead on operational delivery. This project involves paid peer mentors providing support to those going through the criminal justice system. This support will help them to access and navigate the range of services available to them and encourage them through the peers own experience to think differently about their offending behaviour.
There is a real difference between the role of a peer mentor and other workers. Peer mentors draw their legitimacy from both their experiential knowledge and expertise. That experiential knowledge being information acquired through the process of one's own recovery/ rehabilitation and experiential expertise being the ability to transform this knowledge into the skill of helping others to achieve and sustain recovery. Peer support between people using services is not new (self help groups, mutual aid etc) but what is new is the creation of paid peer mentor roles which partners within the wider criminal justice service system will be able to refer their clients to.
The pilot project will focus specifically on working with male offenders over the age of 25 in North East Edinburgh Stage one of the pilot has been recruiting and training the peer mentors and we are currently working to taking referrals.