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An examination of peer mentoring with women who experience multiple and complex disadvantage in England

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posted on 2024-03-12, 13:47 authored by Beverley Gilbert

This study explores the area of peer mentoring for women who experience multiple and complex disadvantage. Despite the recognised strengths and benefits of peer mentoring it remains an underexplored area for women. This study explores the perspectives of those who deliver and receive peer mentoring, with the aim of building a more comprehensive understanding of such practice. Three women’s organisations participated in the study and semi-structured interviews were undertaken with decision makers (n=5), peer mentors (n=11) and mentees (n=8). This research is framed within feminist qualitative research. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to consider the findings from the data collected from the 24 in depth interviews.

The findings from this study identify that peer mentoring is a complex form of community level support that provides a welcome approach from the more formal, statutory, community provision many women with multiple and complex disadvantage experience. As a source of support, it was found to be in an early stage of development within women’s groups/organisations but continued to offer something uniquely positive in terms of reaching women who experience multiple and complex disadvantage linked to lived experience of abuse and trauma. This study highlights how delivering peer mentoring well requires a large amount of organisational investment of time and money. However, financial stability was found not to be guaranteed due to funding limitations that are often time limited, or outcome focussed. This adds a restriction in the development of peer mentoring as an operational function for women’s organisations and can force it to be located within a contracted arrangement where feminist ethics of care and trust are compromised. This study contributes new knowledge on the valuable and restorative features peer mentoring can offer women experiencing multiple and complex disadvantage and outlines the need for this to be better understood to ensure its ethical and appropriate development and delivery.



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Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

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