There is an ever-increasing need for aid for vulnerable persons in the Kocmyrzów-Luborzyca and Skała municipalities. In 2018, the Municipal Social Welfare Centre provided support for 179 families, while by 2019 this number stood at 259 (Kocmyrzów-Luborzyca municipal status reports of 2018 and 2019 roku). Surveys conducted in schools revealed the fundamental problems: growing marginalisation of young people in impoverished families and families with problems, inability to provide peer-to-peer support, and young people not involving themselves in work to help others.
We set up a peer support and volunteer work network to address these issues. In four sessions, we trained young people wishing to become volunteers and Leaders of Change (40 people) to provide support, listen actively, and use peer-to-peer coaching tools. The Leaders used these skills to support forty peers from disadvantaged families, providing six support sessions per person. The quality of the support was assured due to continual supervision for the Leaders. On excursions to attend workshops, the young people together designed four schemes of their own for their local community, which next, under the scheme, refurbished a classroom, created a venue for meetings, created greenery arrangements around a school, and held a board game picnic. A film was made to promote peer voluntary work with peer-to-peer coaching.
77 people aged 12-15 from the Kocmyrzów-Luborzyca and Skała municipalities enhanced their community skills. The support provided a greater sense of control and agency, and decreased the sense of marginalization. The joint measures for the local community helped integrate young people, and they remain in contact now the scheme has ended.
Due to creation of a peer support network and young people working together, participants have more community contact, a greater role in community life, an enhanced sense of control and influence over their surroundings, and a readiness to take part in community action and help others, thus improving community cohesion.