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Social Research

Evaluation of European Social Fund peer mentoring Wales

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  • Release date: 7 February 2014
The project has the primary aim of assisting ex-substance misusers across Wales to enter employment or further learning.


  • Between October 2009 and September 2013, 9,627 clients were registered as participants in the project.
  • Based on those registered up to June 2013, just over two-thirds were male, over three-quarters were between 25 and 54, and the great majority were White European.
  • Only 30 per cent had qualifications at NQF Level 2 (i.e. GCSE level) or above and at least a third had none at all.
  • Well over a third had been dependent on substances (most commonly alcohol, followed by heroin) for most of their adult lives, and most of these had been unemployed for a similar period.
  • On average, clients remained with the project for about seven months.

The path followed by participants after registration

The most common pattern was for them first to take one or more short non-accredited courses (which was helpful as a gentle introduction to the service, as well as allowing the provider to claim an ‘other positive outcome’), followed by:

  • Allocation to a key worker and/or peer mentor to assess the case and make an action plan.
  • Some would take more courses to enhance their social skills or confidence levels, some would start training for a qualification relevant to their planned area of employment; others would begin volunteering or work experience, and still others would start applying for jobs.
  • A minority, too, would begin to train as a peer mentor.


  • The providers achieved almost all the four-year targets set for the project, which had been revised downwards in 2010 in the light of changed circumstances (especially the economic recession and the advent of the Work Programme).
  • Ten per cent of clients had entered employment; nine per cent had entered further learning; 14 per cent had gained a qualification; and 65 per cent had achieved at least one ‘other positive outcome’ - most often, completing a course or volunteering (the above figures are not mutually exclusive).  

Seven recommendations are made on the basis of the findings.


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