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Study finds Together’s peer support has value worth five times money spent on it

Posted on 16, January 2017

A study of Together’s peer support in Hampshire has revealed that every pound spent on it yields a social return worth £4.94.

Peer support is an integral part of Together’s mental health support, and so we set out to quantify its value both for those delivering and receiving it, by undertaking a Social Return on Investment Study. We assessed the peer support delivered over the course of a year in three of our accommodation services in Hampshire to understand the ways in which it impacted people’s lives and what they valued most about it. From this, the return on investment in peer support was calculated using a methodology for measuring the equivalent worth of our activity in social terms.

Of the service users that took part in the study:

  • 92% had improved confidence as a result of the peer support they received
  • 73% felt more able to manage their mental health
  • 67% felt more in control
  • 83% had an improved social life and support network
  • 83% felt more accepted
  • 92% felt more hopeful about the future

Of the Peer Supporters that took part in the study:

  • 100% had improved confidence as a result of the peer support they delivered
  • 90% felt more able to manage their mental health
  • 90% had an improved social life and support network
  • 100% felt more accepted
  • 90% felt they had a greater sense of purpose
  • 100% felt they had improved future prospects

All three of the services that took part provide a range of support to people who experience mental distress, many of whom have multiple complex needs. Peer support is offered as an integral part of the service, and complements – but is distinguishable from – the support provided by staff.

The peer support was delivered by 12 volunteer peer supporters, who were extensively trained and supported, in line with Together’s policy on providing the resources and framework needed for high-quality peer support to flourish.

Liz Felton, CEO of Together for Mental Wellbeing, commented:

We know from what people tell us that peer support is immensely valuable and can help people take huge strides forward in their recovery. To have this confirmed in monetary terms by this study is fantastic and I’m sure it will come as no surprise to all those who have seen the positive impact of peer support first-hand.

Our peer support is developed and delivered by people with lived experience of mental distress, and we only ever offer peer support when we are confident we have the resource and supporting structures in place to train and equip our peer supporters to deliver the highest possible quality support. This study is confirmation that this approach pays off.

Abbie Yerrill, Peer Support Coordinator for Hampshire Recovery Services who has previously volunteered as a Peer Supporter herself, added:

“The results of this study reflect my experiences as both a Peer Supporter and a Peer Support Coordinator; it is amazing to now have evidence of the significant impact Peer Support has on both those who give and receive it.

For me, Peer Support presented opportunities I didn’t know my experience of mental distress could lead to. Being a Peer Supporter allowed me to use my experiences in a positive way, improved my confidence, and significantly helped my own recovery.

Peer Support helped me grow, and that growth has enabled me to move on to working full time as a Peer Support Coordinator. Now I get to help others access opportunities that I personally benefitted so much from.”

We now plan to increase the number of people who are able to benefit from our peer support by:

  • identifying and addressing reasons why some people choose not to access it
  • exploring new and different ways of people accessing peer support, for example over the telephone and by extending provision of group support
  • encouraging service users to communicate positive experiences and outcomes with other service users.

To request a copy of the full report please email our Communications team