Peer Mentors are vital to us here at Concrete they use their personal experience of homelessness to help our customers to build concrete futures.
This #VolunteerWeek we’re celebrating them and the AMAZING work they do by sharing their stories. Like John* he’s been a peer mentor for Concrete for over three years now and wanted to give back by helping other people in a similar situation.
John became homeless after becoming seriously ill. He was evicted without notice and found himself homeless. “I was seriously ill and ended up in hospital for a long time. When I got out, I found that my landlord had changed the locks with no explanation. At that moment I had nothing and felt like my future was gone.”
“I slept in parks and hostels because I didn’t know where to go, or who to turn to.”
“I’d worked all my life and wouldn’t have believed I would ever end up homeless. It really did prove to me that it really can happen to anyone. It’s just a sudden change of circumstances that lands you on hard times and suddenly you’re out on the streets and on your own.”
“I was introduced to Concrete who helped me to get back on my feet. Without their help I don’t think I would have gotten off the streets. They were so good to me that I wanted to give something back to show my appreciation and to help people going through similar things.”
As a Peer Mentor John now visits customers in similar situations and provides emotional and practical support. “When I tell customers that I was homeless before too, they’re shocked. I’m proof that people can come through to the other side. Having the lived experience allows customers to trust me and open up and have that mutual respect, because I have an understanding.”
“I’m there for customers when they need someone to talk to or they need help with a situation. If I can help, I will and if I can’t I’ll find someone who can. I’m always on the other end of the phone.”
“I really love being a Peer Mentor, it gives me great comfort knowing that I’m making a difference to people’s lives. One of my customers just before Christmas took me to one side and thanked me for all the help I’d given him that year. It was emotional for us both and I was really proud in that moment. Proud of everything I’d overcome and now everything I’m doing to help others.”
After being a Peer Mentor for over three years John is working towards achieving his qualifications with the plan of joining the Concrete army as a Support Worker.
Find out more about our peer mentor opportunities here: www.thisisconcrete.org.uk/peer-mentors/