Posted by Chiara 30 days ago in Fast Forward

The SPEN Conference – March 14th, 2018

A blog from Elaine, our SPEN Officer


“There is no fire alarm today…”

As coordinator of the Scottish Peer Education Network it’s my job to organise the annual SPEN Conference, which this year took place on the 14th March at the Scottish Youth Theatre in Glasgow – just search for the hashtag  on Twitter!

Designed for practitioners, young and old, the SPEN Conference is an opportunity to celebrate peer education and showcase examples of how they are working across Scotland. In this, the Year of Young People, which now sadly for me is anyone under the age of 50, I decided to ask young people to present a couple of workshops too, which I have to say, did not disappoint.

So, speaker and workshop presenters booked, lunch organised and projectors plugged in. The bad weather was the previous week, Scotrail were running to time – mostly, nothing broke and delegates arrived. Fantastic!

Dr Kirstin Mitchell, senior research fellow, University of Glasgow, spoke about the STASH (Sexually Transmitted Infection and Sexual Health) trial completed in 6 schools across Edinburgh and West Lothian. Research just in showed very positive findings from the S4 pupils in each school who were trained to be STASH peer supporters for the rest of their year group. Two days of information around peer support and sexual health, along with 6 follow up sessions within school, gave them the tools they needed to share and inform other S4’s using Facebook groups, the STASH website and conversations.

STASH Peer Supporters from Bathgate Academy presented some of their learning to delegates during a workshop and the artwork created from the ‘accepting yourself’ activity was spectacular! Their confidence to challenge and provoke discussion was fantastic and each time I went into the room they were laughing too.

LANDED peer educators delivered information around their newly produced resource about cigarettes and cannabis. With activity based discussion and picture boards, delegates were really engaged in the presentation from the young peer educators. Isn’t it great when young people can teach some of us older folk a thing or two – and have the confidence to do it so well?

Louise Christie from the Scottish Recovery Network facilitated conversations about mental health and how we can start them. We all have mental health and most of it is good, but some of us can benefit now and again from a conversation with friends about how we are feeling and to know we are not the only ones feeling a bit low or anxious. SPEN is looking to do some joined up work in this area so watch this space.

After attending the 3 workshops and a delicious lunch, delegates watched a performance of ‘Wasted’, a short play produced in conjunction with Fast Forward and Strange Town. A thought provoking piece of peer theatre, which is, as I speak, being performed in schools in Edinburgh. Designed to start discussion around risk taking behaviour, it was a funny and powerful story, which left the audience with more questions than we had time for……

Huge thanks to all who participated and attended on the day. Back next year…

If you have any peer education needs or would like to be a SPEN member please click the SPEN button on this website for more information or contact elaine@fastforward.org.uk