Peer Support at Together
Peer support takes place when people with experience of mental distress support each other towards better wellbeing, as people of equal value and on a reciprocal basis, using their own lived experience as a tool for support.
We know from experience that peer support can help people to take huge strides forward in their recovery. People who have experienced mental health issues can offer privileged insight and understanding, and draw on their own experiences to help others. The support they give can be an extremely effective complement to support given by mental health professionals, or a lifeline to those for whom traditional mental health support has not worked.
We recognise the huge benefits of informal peer support, which has a long history and which we encourage to flourish in our services. As so many people have found peer support effective, we have worked alongside service users to create more “formal” peer support opportunities within our services. This means that we train people to act as Peer Supporters and provide the infrastructure they need to deliver this support safely and confidently. This includes supervision and support from a paid Peer Support Coordinator who themselves has experience of mental distress.
People with lived experience of mental distress play the lead role in developing our approach to peer support, including designing and delivering peer support training, and developing ways that peer support works in practice across Together.
Though the peer support each person gives or receives is unique and tailored to the individuals involved, all of Together’s peer support follows a set of core principles. These principles have been decided collectively by service users and Peer Supporters as part of a Peer Support Charter, and are at the heart of what is special and unique about our peer support. These principles are:
- Safety and Trust
- Being yourself
- Reducing stigma
- Person-centred goals
- Equality and empowerment
- Strength and potential
- Moving on
Films on Peer Support at Together
Alison Wilcox is a peer supporter at Berkshire West Your Way and spoke to Together Senior Communications Officer Martin Fewster about how the peer support group provided a community that then made her decide to become a peer supporter herself and how that process went:
Anna Hand is a peer supporter at Together and here discusses her move to providing peer support and how she has started to build a relationship with the person she’s working alongside. Additionally she considers the effect providing peer support and helping another person has been having on her own wellbeing:
Peer Support in Criminal Justice Services
Our Peer Supporters in our criminal justice services draw on their own experiences of mental distress and the criminal justice system, to support others overcome similar challenges.
In the film below Peer Support Coordinator Christine Pearson explains what peer support in Together’s criminal justice services is like and the impact that has:
Read more about peer support in our criminal justice services.
Peer Support Resources
- Peer Support in Secure Services - Clare Shaw
- Lived experience leading the way: Peer support in mental health - Executive Summary
- Lived experience leading the way: Peer support in mental health
- Using personal experience to support others with similar difficulties: A review of the literature on peer support in mental health services
- A helping hand: consultation with service users about peer support
- Together Social Return On Investment Peer Support in Accommodation Based Services 2016
Find out more
If you are interested in giving or receiving peer support, contact the Peer Support Coordinator in your area (see below for contact details). For more information about Together’s approach to peer support, or if there is not a Peer Support Coordinator in your area, please contact Carrie Connolly.
London – Together Wellbeing Pathway
This is peer support for people who are in the criminal justice system with a diagnosis of Personalist Disorder
Peer Support Co-ordinator: Currently recruiting
Norfolk Community Support
Peer Support and Volunteer Coordinators:
- Peer Support & Volunteer Co-Ordinator – Claire Woodcock – 07880 191 236
- Peer Support & Volunteer Co-Ordinator (volunteers) – Tom Butcher – 07715 311655
Peer Support Practice Lead (for general enquiries about peer support)
Tel: 07849 087542