Peer Advisor Programme

The Resettlement Services at HMP Wealstun are the best we have seen amongst comparable prisons. It we could take some of the good qualities from Wealstun and bottle it for other establishments we would.”

HMIP,August 2015

What is a Peer Advisor?

A Peer Advisor is a Level 3 Information, Advice and Guidance trained, responsible,trustworthy orderly who is visible and accessible to other prisoners. They provide high quality information, advice and guidance services and assist education, resettlement and prison staff. Their skills and competence can bring benefits to the whole prison.

St Giles Trust provides support into employment, voluntary work or further training for all Peer Advisors.

It’s a really good step for them, their heads are full of good things and it gets them into the routine for work.” HMPPS Resettlement Staff.

What are the benefits?

  • They help to create a safer and less stressful prison environment because their presence means more prisoners can access more support and information 24/7. This reduces frustration and tension.
  • Peer Advisors provide credible advice and support because they have “been there themselves”.
  • They promote desistance and are positive, non-offending (pro-social) role models
  • Peer Advisors are highly adept at engaging the hardest to reach prisoners who won’t engage with statutory services.

Prisoners often prefer support from their peers... and peers are often easier to access, making them a more readily available source of support.”

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Annual Report 2014-15

What is its impact?

The Peer Advisor Programme has been robustly and externally evaluated by a wide range of evaluators including Frontier Economics, The University of Kent,The Social Innovation Partnership, ICPR Kings College, PwC and New Philanthropy Capital. These have demonstrated a reduction in re-offending in offenders supported by Peer Advisors and the effectiveness of our programmes from an economic, social and human perspective.

  • Our peer-led services at HMP Peterborough under the world’s first ever Social Impact Bond reduced re-offending rates in Peterborough by nearly 10%
  • PwC concluded that for every £1 invested in our Peer Advisor Programme £8.54 in societal benefits is delivered. These benefits were a mix of those directly associated with the Peer Advisors through their own development and those they supported.
  • The Social Innovation Partnership found that re-offending amongst a sample of highly chaotic, vulnerable female prison leavers halved in the year following released when they were offered peer support through the gate
  • The Social Innovation Partnership found that our peer-led SOS Project supporting young people to leave gangs changed 87% of the client sample’s attitudes towards offending. 73% of the client sample stated that it was important that their caseworker was an ex-offender.
  • Since 2007, we have won 18 awards for our services including a Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation for our peer-led work with foreign national prisoners, a Charity Award for our peer-led work with vulnerable female prisoners and a Butler Trust Award for our Peer Advisor Programme.

It’s an essential service- I don’t know what we’d do without it.”

HMPPS Staff.

The Peer Advisor Programme was first developed in 2002 in HMP Wandsworth to train serving prisoners to help meet the high demand for advice and guidance services in prison. Since this time, thousands serving prisoners and ex-offenders in the community have engaged with The Peer Advisor Programme, increasing their skills and employability prospects whilst helping other prisoners progress their lives.