Guiding principles of a peer-led intervention to support the transition to community among people released from prison in British Columbia, Canada
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Unlocking the Gates Services Society, Canada
University of British Columbia
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1594
People who are released from prison face significant challenges in their transition back into community. Unlocking the Gates Services Society (UTGSS) is a peer-led organization comprised of people with shared lived experience that supports this population by connecting them with health and social services in British Columbia, Canada. The objective of this study was to identify the guiding principles of UTGSS program in their peer-to-peer work with people released from prisons.

Focus groups (N=2 groups; 11 participants) and one-on-one interviews (N=3) were conducted with UTGSS staff. Focus groups and interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis was conducted with an iterative approach, moving between data collection, analysis, and discussion with participants to identify patterns across the transcripts.

Four themes were identified in relation to the guiding principles of UTGSS staff in their peer-to-peer work: 1) Offering hope; 2) Meeting clients where they are; 3) Building respectful relationships; 4) Providing consistent support.

The identified UTGSS peer-to-peer program themes enable staff with shared lived experiences to develop rapport with clients via robust and proven guidelines, thereby creating opportunities for connections to health and social services and overall improving the transition of recently released people back into community. The guiding principles reported in this study may serve as a model for engagement with people released from prison in other peer-led programs seeking to support this population in their transition to community post-release.

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