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On mentoring, social mentoring and befriending

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This is an account of the origins of the concept of social mentoring and development of a social mentoring project in a local community in the city of Brighton and Hove in the UK. The account highlights the potential of social intervention for investigating the gaps and opportunities for mentoring services for people living with Asperger Syndrome. This initiative provides a model for supporting a parallel dialogue alongside and beyond the practice initiative so as to create a space for reflection on the impact and the broader application of the intervention. This project was made possible by the commitment and tenacity of a number of local community activists and welfare entrepreneur’s on the ground who were able to set in train a number of events. These events are mapped out starting with community concerns, campaign initiatives, survey of the area of need and the use of evidence to secure funding and establish a client specific city-wide initiative. The role and importance of establishing alliances between the community and the local university academic community through a participatory research approach is highlighted and the benefits of creating space for the sharing of evidence from the literature and squaring this with evidence from practice through the development of a wider community of practice network is discussed. The resulting knowledge synthesis regarding the differentiation between mentoring, social mentoring and befriending is presented.

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Author information

Correspondence to Bill McGowan.

Additional information

Jane Frost of ASSERT, Fiona Edwards of CUPP, Ollie Glass of University of Sussex, Gail Louw of the Institute of Postgraduate Medicine, Polly Rodrigues of CUPP, and Jeremy Potter (resident scholar) for their commitment, participation and contributions to the evolution of the Social Mentoring Network and the EQUAL Brighton and Hove Social Mentoring Research Programme.

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McGowan, B., Saintas, P. & Gill, K.S. On mentoring, social mentoring and befriending. AI & Soc 23, 613 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00146-008-0184-z

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  • Social Care
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Mentor Relationship
  • Attachment Relationship