The Marsh Awards recognise excellent mental health peer support that is led by people with direct experience of mental health problems.
In 2016 we received an impressive 57 nominations and the quality of the peer led projects was outstanding.
The judging panel comprised of the Peerfest Planning Team, a number of independent survivor researchers and three of the projects recognised in the 2015 Award.
Evolve (Surrey) – Winner of the Marsh Award 2016 and £1,000.
Evolve is a peer support group for young people aged 13-19 in Surrey, who struggle with their mental health. Nikki created the group two years ago when she was just 17, because she felt she had no one to turn to when she was ill, and wanted to change that for others.
"Evolve is a safe space to talk and find friends and others who understand. No one needs a diagnosis, or a referral, they just come along. We share our stories, ideas for things that have helped us, and we share the hope we have for recovery.
There is a wide range of people that come to Evolve and we have all become a family over the past 2 years. More people have found ways to cope with negative feelings and thoughts, find others who support them, and learn to accept themselves.
When we heard we won the Marsh Award, we were so shocked but so happy! There are so many amazing peer support groups out there, so there was some stiff competition, but it's amazing to see how many people care for others with mental health problems. When we told the rest of the members they were so happy because we all contribute to the group in different ways, so it was definitely a celebration for all of us.
We haven't decided what to do with the money yet, but we have had a few discussions and we would like to get more resources, promote the group more, as well as work on the idea of making a book in which we all have a chapter. By the next Marsh Awards, we will have done so much more as a result of winning this award.
All of us are incredibly grateful and this will contribute to making sure more young people don't feel alone."
Read Nikki's story on how peer support transformed her life.