Over the last two years, the Side by Side programme – supported by the Big Lottery Fund – has delivered peer support to 17,936 people online and 3,255 in person, and promoted peer support to nearly 74,000 people.
We’ve worked with three research partners – St George’s University of London, McPin Foundation, and the London School of Economics – to investigate the impact of community-based peer support on people’s mental health, wellbeing and use of services. Some members of the research team also used their own experiences of mental health problems and peer support to shape the research
Our first peer support strategy consultation, Piecing together the Jigsaw (2013), and feedback from people with lived experience of mental health problems, recommended that we continue to raise the profile of peer support, evidence its value, and support a wide range of groups, organisations and services to deliver high quality, peer-led peer support.
In response to these recommendations, the Side by Side programme focussed on community-based services using a variety of models, through co-produced design and delivery.
The results of our research are rich and nuanced, showing the importance of individual experiences, choice and ownership within peer support. Our early findings report gives an overview of the themes and findings. This research shows the richness of different experiences and the ways different people benefit from peer support.
Below are our key findings and recommendations from the Early Findings Report: