Darlington-Borough-CouncilVOLUNTEERS who are keen to support vulnerable and isolated people in Darlington and Bishop Auckland are being sought to take part in the second ever Community Peer Mentor training course set to start on Wednesday 28 September. The five- week training course is free of charge and will take place at Bishop Auckland Community Fire Station from 6pm; sessions last for 2 ½ hours.

The first training course was held in Darlington earlier in the year and has proved so successful that a decision was made to repeat this success and expand the project to Bishop Auckland.

Once trained, the ‘Community Peer Mentor’ can choose if they would like to engage with clients in either the Darlington or Bishop Auckland areas.

The Community Peer Mentors project is a joint initiative between the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC) and Darlington Borough Council. It aims to support those suffering from anti-social behaviour or neighbourhood disputes, perceived or real.

The project also aims to help reduce the pressure on frontline services by engaging with individuals who make frequent calls and demands on services. The level of training required will depend on a volunteer’s experience, expertise and qualifications.

The course is delivered by a professional in coaching and mentoring, and provides an opportunity for experiential learning, using techniques including role play, large group discussions and creative exercises. The feedback from recent volunteers includes: ‘Always interesting and informative’ -‘Very Good’ – ‘Easy to understand’ – ‘Met more than my expectations’ – ‘Brilliant’ – ‘Felt comfortable and able to talk’ and ‘Absolutely brilliant’.

Once trained, Community Peer Mentors will work in pairs with individuals to find the reasons behind their behaviour or why they feel the way they do and encourage them to find ways to get the help and support they need.

Councillor Bill Dixon, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said:

“I am delighted at the success of our earlier project and pleased that more people have the chance to get involved. This is a fascinating and intensely rewarding area of voluntary work where you can make a real difference to people at a very difficult time in their lives. We are looking for people from all backgrounds with a range of life experiences to get involved.

“The community of Darlington has a long history or volunteering and I urge motivated, caring and enthusiastic individuals of all ages to get involved.”

PCVC Ron Hogg said: “This project is really going from strength to strength which is great news for our communities. Our Community Peer Mentors in Darlington have helped people who are isolated and feel vulnerable, and in turn they have found it a rewarding experience to help others when they need it the most.

“I strongly encourage new volunteers in the Bishop Auckland area to come forward and get involved in this unique and rewarding scheme.”

No previous experience in volunteering or supporting people is needed as training is provided. There is no upper age restriction and relevant travel expenses will be paid.

Applicants are invited to contact Jim Cunningham for more information or to register their interest on: 01325 405565 or email jim.cunningham@darlington.gov.uk.