The Benefits of Peer Mentoring
Our vision at DTA Wales is of thriving and resilient communities across Wales, places of possibility where people can take control of their lives through community enterprise, social action and community asset ownership. Peer to peer mentoring is at the heart of this approach, building spirals of strength and connection within our networks.
Through our members, mentors and connections we are proud to be part of a rich network of community organisations, with a strong track record in mentoring programmes. At present, we host a pool of Peer Mentors across Wales with a wealth of skills and experience, who work across various programmes such as Egin, the Community Ownership Fund and Social Business Wales. Our Mentors are rooted in strong sustainable environmental values, and are flexible to meet new niches and needs.
What is Peer Mentoring?
Peer mentoring is a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee). It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect. Peer Mentors use their past experiences and knowledge to help guide or direct the person or group they are mentoring in a supportive and empowering way.
Community organisations have different interests, priorities and capacities. DTA Wales’ mentoring focuses on finding the right starting point for each group and helping them realise their potential from a position of what they can start doing right now. Mentoring takes many forms and can cover a huge range of topics, but at its heart is the ability for a Mentor to understand what a group is trying to do, what they need to know, and to share their experience accordingly.
Peer Mentoring is different from advising or consulting: Peer mentoring involves a relationship between individuals who share similar experiences, with the mentor offering guidance based on their own lived experiences and personal insights. In contrast, consultancy typically involves engaging professional experts who provide specialised knowledge and advice based on their expertise. While consultancy focuses on delivering expert advice, peer mentoring centres around building a supportive relationship, facilitating learning, and empowering mentees through shared experiences.
Mentoring does not provide specific recommendations on matters with significant legal, technical, or financial consequences, including planning. It also doesn’t mean carrying out a group’s work on their behalf – a Peer Mentor’s role is to provide guidance and support as groups do these activities themselves, fostering their growth and self-sufficiency, being on hand to help groups develop solutions and ideas.
The Benefits of Peer Mentoring
Peer to peer mentoring offers a unique learning pathway in this way for mentees to find their feet more quickly. It is a rich and rewarding process for all involved: by its very nature it continually enhances the knowledge, skills and understanding of both mentor and mentee.
DTA Wales has been collecting feedback from our mentees and mentoring programmes for the last 10 years, and as such the following benefits are drawn from our own action research. For an individual or group receiving peer mentoring, some of the benefits include:
- Skill building: Mentoring provides timely access to skills and expertise, serving as a catalyst for positive transformation and growth.
- Tailored Support: Mentees receive detailed, skilled and customised support from a diverse pool of expertise, complementing other sources of advice and guidance.
- Building Confidence: Learning from experienced peers who have achieved similar aims boosts the mentee’s confidence and belief in their own abilities.
- Knowledge Transfer: Mentoring facilitates the transfer of knowledge and skills, empowering mentees to take informed action, enhancing their overall competence and capacity.
- Expanded Networks: Mentees gain new connections and expand their networks with like-minded individuals, offering inspiration, encouragement, and opportunities for collaboration.
- Cultivating Creativity: Peer mentoring cultivates creative approaches to working and engaging with people, increasing the likelihood of success in achieving goals.
- Personal Growth and Development: Mentees benefit from various personal growth outcomes, including learning new skills, setting goals, adjusting to change, building confidence, developing communication and personal skills, and transforming weaknesses into strengths.
- Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: Mentoring helps mentees develop strategies for navigating challenges, making better decisions and being better resourced to solve issues.
- Support System: Mentees connect with someone who believes in their abilities, providing encouragement, guidance, and support through difficult situations.
- Self-Reflection and Direction: Peer mentoring aids mentees in identifying goals, and establishing a sense of direction.
- Fostering resilience: Mentoring equips mentees with tools and techniques to overcome obstacles and face challenges head-on, fostering resilience and capacity to handle change and difficult situations.
“My mentor supported me to keep going through tough times and to build my confidence that I had meaningful contributions – it made a difference to have someone rooting for me, especially because climate action has many challenges,” Renew Wales mentee who later became a Peer Mentor, feedback from 2012-2022.
However, it is not only mentees who benefit from peer mentoring. It is a mutually beneficial relationship which can foster innovation and new ideas. Some of the mutual benefits to both mentor and mentee include:
- Continual cycle of innovation and best practices: Through the exchange of varied and novel ideas, peer mentoring fosters innovation and drives positive change. This leads to stronger networks and long-term benefits for everyone involved.
- Building a culture of sustainability and resilience: Peer mentoring encourages a broad culture of social change and care for others. By placing sustainability and resilience at the heart of communities, it promotes long-lasting positive outcomes.
- Encouragement in the face of challenges: Meeting passionate, committed, and diverse individuals serves as a continuous source of encouragement when facing obstacles. This cultivates a powerful positive narrative within the sector.
- Constructive challenge and collaboration: Peer mentoring creates a culture of constructive challenge and multi-disciplinary collaboration. This approach improves problem-solving and leads to shared solutions, opening up new pathways for innovation and building resilience.
- Unexpected outcomes and ripple effects: The peer-to-peer relationship in mentoring often catalyses unexpected outcomes. These can include ripple effects that extend beyond the directly related project, creating additional positive actions and successes.
Finally, there are many benefits that come to the peer mentor themselves: mentoring provides an opportunity for an ethical livelihood that is consistently in demand, allowing you to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. Your expertise and guidance as a mentor are highly valued, offering a chance to contribute to the growth and development of mentees while experiencing the rewards of positively influencing their journey.
Mentoring is a continual process of action learning that enhances your own work. By sharing your knowledge and experience, you not only support the growth of others but also deepen your understanding and refine your skills. Additionally, mentoring allows you to strengthen and contribute to resilient networks within a larger movement. By actively participating as a mentor, you become part of a community that shares similar values and goals, fostering collaboration and collective progress. It opens doors to new contacts and friendships with individuals who have similar aims and values, expanding your professional and personal network and paving the way for future collaborations.
DTA welcomes peer mentors who share our vision and values, who have experience of setting up, and/or working within, community organisations, and who commit to the protocols and principles of peer mentor practice. We are currently recruiting mentors, particularly Welsh-speaking mentors in North Wales, who have experience with community energy and renewables – read more about how to apply here.