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Peer-powered Support: Exploring the Impact and Potential of Peer-mentoring in Social Work Education

Bleasby, Cally, Simpson, Diane, Regan, Kristy, Watson, Phil and Scorer, Jamie (2023) Peer-powered Support: Exploring the Impact and Potential of Peer-mentoring in Social Work Education. In: European Conference for Social Work Research (2024), 17-19 Apr 2024, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


Peer-mentoring within the Higher Education context is a process of reciprocal support whereby more experienced students act as ‘mentors’, supporting student ‘mentees’ to support their transition to university. It is known to have value for both mentors and mentees on professional degree programmes. For mentors, it can build confidence, develop professional identity, and support them to develop skills which align with the standards and expectations of social workers. For mentees benefits include increasing engagement, reducing worries, and developing resilience.

There is limited research on the topic of peer-mentoring for qualifying social work programmes in the UK. Recent research by one of the co-authors at a neighbouring university highlighted the benefits of peer-mentoring for student social workers, but also noted some barriers in establishing and running such a scheme. This poster will outline how we have built on the learning from this research and developed a peer-mentoring scheme at the University of Sunderland. The outline will include how we prepared mentors to ensure they understood the role, as well as how we worked with prospective student mentors and social workers with prior experience of peer-mentoring to co-produce the boundaries and expectations of the role, which ensured the scheme was student led, whilst being supported by staff.

Contact between mentors and mentees can include face-to-face meetings, but much of the support offered by mentors is through communication technologies; utilising apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to set up groups, check in, share information and have informal conversations. This links to the overall theme of the conference; the poster will also discuss the challenges and opportunities for peer-mentoring in social work education within contemporary contexts and technologies.

We are part way through a research study which evaluates the scheme. The impact of our peer-mentoring scheme so far for mentors, mentees and the programme will be shared. Some of the benefits that have already been identified are increasing student confidence, professional socialisation and networking, allaying the worries of mentees about academic work, and developing positive and supportive inter-level relationships. Mentees have especially valued being able to seek support for course specific questions outside of staff working hours, by being able to contact the mentors through more informal means of communication. We will also explore the challenges and learning for the future; however, the benefits of the scheme have outweighed any difficulties. It is hoped that by sharing our experience that we can promote dialogue around the value of peer-mentoring, and that other courses can make use of our learning to develop their own schemes.

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Related URLs:
Depositing User: Cally Bleasby


Item ID: 17576
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Cally Bleasby: ORCID iD
ORCID for Diane Simpson: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2024 08:42
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2024 08:42


Author: Cally Bleasby ORCID iD
Author: Diane Simpson ORCID iD
Author: Kristy Regan
Author: Phil Watson
Author: Jamie Scorer

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Health and Social Care
Education > Higher Education

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