Veterans’ Peer Mentoring (VPM) Scheme
The VPM Service consists of a cohort of ex and serving armed service personnel recruited from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. They are all volunteers and are drawn from a diverse range of military backgrounds and ranks. Given their backgrounds the VPMs can understand many of the frustrations, problems and challenges facing veterans who find themselves in the criminal justice system. In addition to helping their service users to resolve pressing issues the VPMs act as role models for them.
The VPMs complete a three day induction training course. The volunteers also receive ongoing training to expand their range of understanding and skills.
The VPMs work, one to one, with service users on community orders or those released from prison. The service users are referred to the VPM service by the Senior Case Manager/Case Manager once the person has requested assistance from the service.
Many ex armed service personnel experience difficulties in reintegrating back into the community after spending time in the armed forces. Those that have served for a long time can become institutionalised in a similar way as a long term prisoner might. However some veterans do not start offending until several years after leaving the armed services.
- Become socially isolated
- Suffer from lack of kudos and standing in the community
- Experience the loss of a sense of comradeship (family)
- Experience the loss of structure in their lives
- Experience the loss of focus to their lives
- Experience pressures on personal relationships and family life
- Suffer from unemployment or switching jobs regularly in an effort to try find a job that gives satisfaction
- Suffer difficulties in obtaining suitable accommodation
- Experience frustration with a lack of understanding of the way civilian life works; paying taxes, community charges, TV licences, food budgeting, utility bills and obtaining GPs appointments
- Experience a sense of frustration in the apparent slowness in resolving personal issues in civilian life
- Suffer from physical or mental health issues
- Suffer from substance abuse including alcohol dependency
- Suffer from debt problems
The above list is not exhaustive!
The Role of the Mentor
The mentors work includes providing empathetic support to service users. This support is focussed on empowering the service user to resolve issues and enable them to successfully take control of their lives and not reoffend.
Initially the mentor and the service user will probably meet for a cup of coffee and have a chat about the service user’s needs. This enables the prioritising of the identified issues and the agreeing of an action plan. Following this the mentor will maintain telephone contact and have regular meetings with the service user to advise, encourage, assess progress and accompany to meetings if necessary (benefits office, court, mental health treatment access etc.). Regularly, mentors produce progress reports and keep the service user’s Senior Case Manager/Case Manager informed as to the progress made. Mentors work with service users until the action plan has been achieved or significant progress has been made. Care has to be taken to ensure that the service user does not become permanently dependent on the mentor.
The mentors have access to a range of statutory organisations, agencies and charities which include the; RFEA, SSAFA, RBL, Combat Stress, Veterans Outreach Support, Warrior Programme and many more.
For more information or for questions about how to become a VPM please contact:
Ernie Grendall at: ErnieGrendall@interservejustice.org Mobile: 07712 420812
If you are interested in applying, complete the HIOW Volunteer Mentor Application form templated_June2017 and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.