St Giles Trust – Peer Advice Project

Project objective

  • To develop the accredited qualification in Advice and Guidance (QCF NVQ Level 3) so that it is relevant for foreign national prisoners with English as a¬†Second¬†Language.
  • To train ten foreign national prisoners to become peer advisors in year one.
  • To provide 1,500 prisoners, who have English as a Second Language, with advice and guidance, using this scheme.
  • To develop a programme of training which could be used across all prisons and with ex-offenders within the community.

Project partner

St Giles Trust is a crime reduction charity that works with offenders and other vulnerable groups, turning lives around by offering tailored support to assist with housing, education and employment.

St Giles Trust aims to break the cycle of offending, to create safer communities by turning lives around and preventing the children of offenders from becoming the next generation involved in the criminal justice system.

About the project

St Giles Trust peer advisor programme has trained serving prisoners to achieve a third level qualification in Advice and Guidance so they can support other prisoners.

Once trained, peer advisors:

  • give advice on housing and resettlement
  • work as orderlies
  • provide advice and support on training and employment roles act as diversity representatives and listeners

There are a range of cultures and languages within a prison which make it difficult for prison staff to communicate with and respond to foreign national prisoners. Moreover, the current qualification does not meet the different needs of those prisoners who have English as an Additional Language. Funding from The Bell Foundation has been used to develop this qualification so that it better meets the needs of foreign national prisoners. Specific modules developed include:

  • Services available in the prison
  • Detention information and signposting
  • Diversity issues
  • Access to training and employment opportunities

The course is structured to ensure that a variety of learning styles and language and literacy support are catered for and that each learner agrees an Individual Learning Plan. The qualification has during the first year offered been completed by nine prisoners, who in turn support between 30 and 50 foreign national prisoners every week. One of the prisoners who has completed the qualification says:

Having been shown how to do it and what is needed to do it properly has done wonders for my confidence. It is also clear that my confidence instills a sense of trust as well as confidence in the clients. When you know what you are talking about or what you are doing, you do it much better.

The Bell Foundation has granted St Giles Trust a funding extension to continue to offer this qualification more widely.