Project of the Year, Peer Coaching Programme
Using the model of an award-winning Peer Mentoring Scheme, developed and managed by our Director, Claire in a previous role, we felt that Peer Coaching was an essential part of the development of Next Chapter. The value it added to the young people and project were invaluable and with our existing project, Best Foot Forward, Peer Coaches would compliment this programme and add significant value to the process.
In September 2015, we recruited Guy and Ryan who, having already attended Best Foot Forward, felt they had the potential to be inspirational Peer Coaches on future courses. Having already volunteered with HQ Coaching in South Africa during 2014, Claire suggested that the team complete their training by travelling out to Cape Town in 2016, in which they would use all the skills gained during the year, to deliver coaching sessions to 2,400 children from a variety of backgrounds, including Townships. Callum joined us in October 2015 and the training began.
The purpose of Best Foot Forward was to support, motivate and inspire children aged 5-11 in the Wallasey area, creating positive role models and raising aspirations. We aimed to give the children skills to promote positive mental health, develop emotional resilience and raise self awareness, providing tangible role models to aspire to, in the form of local teenagers.
As part of the programme, the Peer Mentors were required to attend 42 hours training, giving them the knowledge and skills to professionally deliver team building and motivational coaching, to 142 children aged 5-11 in the Wallasey area. The programme consisted of a further 42 hours of coaching delivery, which was all delivered during school holidays, having clear outcomes for many of the young people participating. In addition, the peer coaches involved our young people in fundraising, totalling a further 30+ hours. All of which has been a massive commitment in addition to school, cadets, sports teams, family and personal life. Throughout the programme, they consistently demonstrated motivation, commitment, passion, focus, ensuring sessions were first class for our students, regardless of what other demands they were facing in their own life.
Alongside the course delivery, the Peer Coaches were working towards raising £6,000 in order to travel to South Africa in October 2016, volunteering to deliver sports coaching to children from township schools. This gave a working example of how we set, work towards and achieve our goals, for which the children on our programme were very much involved in the journey, with the coaches practically demonstrating aspirations, determination, resilience and achievement.
The South Africa trip, which took place on 21st October 2016 for 11 days, during their half term and saw the Peer Coaches volunteer as part of The HQ Coaching Centre team. This involved 5 days of session delivery to 2,400 children from a diverse range of communities, mainly townships.
Africa has been an incredible and exciting opportunity in which our Peer Coaches actively demonstrated what can be achieved by setting goals, embracing opportunities and being persistent. They have shown great resilience and established a strong support network, in which they continue to welcome younger children to be part of. The programme has engaged 731 people from our community.
As we returned and settled back into our routines, the Peer Coaches continued to deliver sessions around Wallasey and talking to professionals about their experiences, working with us, in addition to preparing for the GCSE exams.
Guy became a Senior Coach with us and has worked, as a member of staff, supporting and delivering sessions to a further 240 children and adults through different activities.
This year saw us secure further funding to extend our programme to the Wirral West area, for which Guy has continued to commit to the programme. He has been fully involved in the session delivery plus the selection, interviews and recruitment of new Peer Coaches. I am delighted that he will be a co-leader in the training programme, sharing his skills, knowledge and experiences as the new recruits’ journey through the Peer Coach training process.
Their level of enthusiasm and excitement about the project has been humbling and tells us, that this is something very special. Our key moments so far was when several of the children we worked with, informed us that they had been so inspired by the Peer Coaches, they wanted to train to make a difference too! One young man, when talking about his goals and aspirations said “My goal is to have a blue shirt and be as inspiring as Callum, Guy and Ryan.” This told us that we were achieving what we set out to do. Raise aspirations of young people who experienced poverty and deprivation in our own community.
As a result of this, we created a Junior Peer Support Programme, for which 16 young people have been trained to support delivery of various projects, including Lego Club. Their role in the group is so important and provides a safe anchor for many vulnerable young children attending our courses. We are extremely proud of our young people.
We were absolutely delighted to achieve Project of the Year Award with the Third Sector Business Awards 2017, sponsored by Inteb and have been shortlisted for 2 more awards based upon this project.
I have been honoured, privileged and proud to work with such motivated, inspirational and committed young people, who I trust implicitly to support younger students. Their passion, commitment, loyalty and focus, despite a number of personal life challenges, has been unquestionable. I look forward to see them develop their skills, hoping to offer them paid employment in the future.