A unique peer education programme at Girlguiding is a fantastic example of just what can be achieved when working with a limited budget, with a well planned blended approach to learning and development.
Peer educators are young members of Girlguiding, aged between 14 and 25, who run informative sessions on subjects that are important to young women today. They cover topics like body confidence, wellbeing and gender stereotypes during face to face sessions for Brownies, Guides and Rangers. New peer educators are often inspired by attending sessions themselves.
Naomi Hurrell, Peer Education Manager at Girlguiding, wanted to build on the success of the programme, so she started by pulling together a ‘task and finish’ group. Together with Mhairi Mackay, Lead Volunteer for Youth Programmes at Girlguiding, they recruited existing stakeholders and volunteers, as well as young people that had no idea about peer education, to create a diverse working group. Over three weekends, they designed a blended learning approach.
“It really was co-designed with our young people, so they were creating it with us, using their experience,” explains Mhairi.
The starting point for anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a peer educator is now a piece of interactive eLearning which they’ve created, which sits on the Girlguiding website.
“We know that young people want to engage online first,” says Naomi. “They actually feel much more comfortable coming to websites and going online rather than going to talk to an adult.”
The next step is a face to face skills training day, which Naomi describes as “peer ed 101.” It covers the nuts and bolts of peer education, and includes essential topics like facilitation and communication. Girlguiding’s organisational safeguarding – called A Safe Space – is also in the journey and is a vital part of the learning.
“Our young members really value embedding these skills and having time to practice and learn from each other in a safe space,” explains Mhairi.
The entire programme includes a blend of face to face sessions, informal chats and eLearning, as well as a piece of video learning they have created themselves.
“The video is a great way of presenting information in a fun way that isn’t sitting down face to face and being lectured,” enthuses Naomi.
Feedback from trainers has been fantastic. The trainers feel comfortable delivering a really robust blended learning programme, and young volunteers also feel prepared and ready to deliver peer education sessions.
“We’ve seen a real passion and enthusiasm from our volunteers and a real willingness to put into practice what they’ve learned at the training,” says Mhairi.
More peer educators than ever before are volunteering and being retained, as they’ve become passionate and committed to what they’re doing.
Naomi thinks that one of the secrets to the success of the programme is the fact that volunteers know exactly what they’re signing up for.
“If you give people a chance to know what they’re getting into, before committing to any big training course, that’s really important for their investment and buy-in and is really powerful,” she says.
Mhairi sees the fact that volunteers can keep returning to resources, to refresh their confidence and skills, as another vital ingredient to success.
Together they have created a fantastic blended programme with a global reach, with some key lessons that organisations of all types can learn.
You can find out more about previous LNTV spotlight interviews, with Tom Boyesen-Corballis from the Prince’s Trust and Paul Hodgkinson from saha, the Salvation Army Housing Association, on our website here.
About Mhairi Mackay and Naomi Hurrell
Mhairi Mackay and Naomi Hurrell were recently interviewed by Michelle Parry-Slater for a spotlight on charities on LNTV, a channel dedicated to learning and development. Michelle is the L&D Director at Kairos Modern Learning and is also the Lead Volunteer for L&D at Girlguiding.