Voluntary Action Shetland   Voluntary Action Shetland
Voluntary Action Shetland

OPEN :- Our Peer Education Network

Peer Education

describes a range of initiatives where people of similar ages, backgrounds, culture and/or social status educate each other about a variety of issues.   

What does OPEN do?

Peer Education in Schools: OPEN recruits and trains young people aged 16-25 to become 'peer educators'. OPEN's main purpose is to embed peer education across Shetland as a methodology of raising awareness and encouraging positive lifestyle choices - especially on issues concerning substance misuse, relationships, sexual health, and mental health; whilst promoting harm reduction at every opportunity.

Peer Mentoring: OPEN are now also operating a Peer Mentoring Programme; with the aim to recruit and match mentors and mentees, to facilitate peer-to-peer mentoring sessions for young people who are care-experienced and/or have experience in the youth justice system. OPEN aims to recruit 4-6 care-experienced/criminal justice experienced young people per year, as well as recruiting and training 4-6 peer mentors per year, whom the mentees will be carefully matched with. The aim of this programme is to improve outcomes for participants, and to prevent offending behaviour.

Emotional Wellbeing and Resilience Project: OPEN are now part of the SIC’s Emotional Wellbeing and Resilience Project, and recruit, support, and train 6 young people aged 14-25; so they that they can form a lead group to represent young people in the Emotional Wellbeing and Resilience Steering Group.

OPEN UP Project: This will run from October 2018 to December 2019. The aim of the project is to recruit, train and support a group of 4 to 6 young people, to take a lead and work in collaboration with local venues and cafés, to provide 10 youth issue theme nights in venues/cafes across Shetland. Another aim of the project is to increase the intake of new volunteers to the OPEN Project, as well as other volunteering opportunities.

How the project is delivered

OPEN’s peer education is delivered mainly through school workshops and youth clubs, by trained volunteers (aged 16-25 years) engaging with groups of young people. OPEN have an ongoing ‘Schools Delivery Programme’ in place with all high schools and junior high schools in Shetland, which sees every workshop assigned to a specific year group; matching the issues most relevant the participants’ age. 

OPEN’s peer mentoring takes place at Market House, Lerwick, which allows OPEN’s volunteers, who are trained mentors, to provide peer-to-peer mentoring support for care-experienced and/or young people engaging with Criminal Justice, in partnership with SIC Children and Families Social Work, Criminal Justice Social Work, and Shetland’s Who Cares? Scotland advocate.

OPEN will work with The Emotional Wellbeing and Resilience Project Steering Group, so that young people and adults can contribute towards the development of the project, with young people being recognised at a strategic level; in developing services to meet their needs.

The OPEN UP café takeovers will provide a space for young adults to gather where they will feel safe and valued, where they can speak about issues affecting them. A guest speaker will be invited to take a leading role at events and to raise awareness about the topic that the young people have identified as being important. At each event there will be two OPEN volunteers taking a lead in organising and delivery of the takeover.

OPEN Workshops include:

OPEN about Sexual Health
OPEN about Sexual Health Clinic
OPEN about Drugs
OPEN about Alcohol
OPEN Online
Mentally OPEN
OPEN about Positive Relationships

The project team

Una Murray Saul Day Wayne Leask Natasha Watt

Una Murray
Project Coordinator

Saul Day
Project Coordinator

Wayne Leask
Peer Education Trainer

Natasha Watt
Peer Education Trainer

OPEN in Numbers:

July 2018 – Jan 2019

  • Number of volunteers who are delivering/shadowing workshops: 11 
  • OPEN peer educators and young people involved in the Project have completed 364 hours towards their Saltire Awards in the last six months through workshops, training, OPEN meetings and OPEN Up nights and planning meetings.
  • Workshop participants’ understanding and knowledge of the topics discussed increased on average by 82%.
  • 721 young people have participated in workshops over the past 6 months, which saw the project deliver 50 workshops during this period. 

How You Can Get Involved

OPEN meetings are every Tuesday evening at Market House, during school term times, between 6pm and 8.30pm, to provide support to the existing volunteers.

If you’re aged between 16 and 25, and interested in volunteering, then please pop along some night or get in touch for more info:

Phone: 01595 745074. Facebook: OPEN Peer Education Project 

| Logo : The Scottish Government | | Logo : Leader Plus | Logo : Project part financed by the european union| Logo : Voluntary Action Shetland| Logo : Shetland Charitable Trust|