Peer guides are volunteers trained in peer counseling who provide support and guidance to participants in the year following prison release. Ideally, a peer guide will have experience in dealing with HIV, incarceration, and substance abuse-related issues. The typical peer guide provides emotional support, encouragement, and direction during the transition process. Peer guides who choose to work with the Community Connections staff will:
- Receive formal training from the Community Connections staff regarding their roles and responsibilities
- Learn about important health and social services available in the community
- Strengthen their communities by supporting the Community Connections participants who need assistance
- Communicate the needs of the participant to the Community Connections staff so the staff can provide linkages to the most appropriate resources
At Community Connections, we support peer guides as they support participants by working together as a team. While peer guides use their wealth of knowledge and experience to aid participants, issues with daily living such as food, clothing and shelter are brought to the attention of the Community Connections staff in order to ensure a more complete approach to assisting participants in these essential areas. Providing a participant with encouragement is an important part of the peer mentoring process as well.
To help us document progress in the program, the staff asks peer guides to keep an activity log of the contact the have with the participant with whom they are paired. The activity log is created by the Community Connections staff and assists peer guides keep track of the date, time and details of phone conversations and meetings. Peer guides have phone conversations with participants at least once a week and meet with them in person twice a month. One of these meetings is held with Community Connections staff in attendance while the time and place of the other meeting is to be determined by you and the participant.