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Women Side by Side Toolkit

This toolkit was written by women involved in running peer support projects across England and Wales. Use it if you're running a group, project or service for women.

This toolkit was funded through the Women Side by Side programme. The programme funded self-help and peer support groups in the women’s and mental health sectors. These groups were for women who’d experienced:

  • Gender-based violence and abuse
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Mental health issues

This toolkit is for you if:

  • You’re interested in thinking through the power dynamics and growth opportunities for group members
  • You’d like to understand the specific needs of people with experience of trauma and abuse


The Women's Side by Side Toolkit was co-produced with women who've had lived experience of mental health difficulties and were part of women's peer support groups. We provided leadership when creating the toolkit. We want to thank the 4 experts by experience who devoted so much time and effort. Without them, this toolkit would not be what it is. 

We'd also like to show massive appreciation to the many 'critical friends' from both the women's and mental health sectors involved in the earlier drafts of this toolkit: specifically:

  • Sarah Jane from Stockton and Middlesbrough Mind
  • Liam Pywell at National Mind
  • Nisba Ahmed, Equalities improvement leader at Mind
  • Laura Wood, perinatal peer support facilitator and lived experience research consultant at Mind. 

We'd like to thank our London women's hub, Against Violence and Abuse (AVA), for supporting the development of this toolkit. A special mention is due to Duncan Marshall, peer support manager at National Mind, for pulling this all together. 

We'd also like to thank Premier Foods, our funders, for making this toolkit possible. 

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