The Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton hosted HeadStart Wolverhampton for two days to run their revolutionary Peer Support Program. This included three secondary schools on the first day and three primaries on the second. The Program aims to teach young people the importance of relationship building and acceptance of different beliefs, cultures and options. This is how our young people managed to learn more about being a real life HERO.
This is the first stage in building a peer support relationship. This is absolutely vital, that the young people understood how to develop a healthy relationship in a short time. When a Peer Supporter approaches a young person it is important to remain open minded and not to be judgemental about what they may or not talk about. Therefore in this part of the session we helped teach this to the young people.
Understand is based on understanding the different emotions peers can experience. For instance understanding different types of facial expressions when a young person is feeling happy or upset. It is essential that the peers supporters understand this so they can then empathise with others.
The Access stage of Hero's is about being aware of a situation, to understand and agree next steps. This is to make Peer supporters aware of how to follow clear procedures to ensure that all parties are protected and that they can evaluate levels of risk effectively.
As a Peer Supporter, supporting fellow peers can help promote resilience for both parties. The peer can feel empowered to take part in activities that they have never tried: football, tennis, chess, arts and crafts etc. This can then lead them into a area that could help promote emotional wellbeing. This also has the positive impact of making the Peer Supporters feel as though they have made an impact and change in someone's life as a result.
In Share the Hero must identify if the situation or conversation that has occurred should be reported to a responsible adult. This is to ensure that peer supporters are not taking the burden of a situation on themselves. By doing so it can put both the peer and peer supporter at risk. The young people found this difficult to understand, "why should they tell a teacher certain things that the peer has told them in high confidence?" Well this is a skill that the peer supporters eventually learned. Safeguarding is a vital skill to have and understand as safety is everyone's number one concern.
Resolve is the end of the peer support relationship and how to pass on that relationship to another fellow supporter. This is to ensure that the peer supporters remain professional and that boundaries are adhered to. This also makes sure that the peer doesn't feel abandoned. Many of the young people may ask why they have to end the relationship? Well we believe that they don't need to end their friendship, meaning they can still talk and play with the person. But they must resolve their peer support relationship, meaning they have stop having formal one to one talks as it can lead to complications and puts too much pressure on an individual peer supporter.