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Peer support means people supporting each other on an equal basis, to offer something based on shared experiences. The two-year Peer Support Programme will begin to build an evidence base for mental health peer support in England. The programme is a response to calls from people with experience of mental health problems to ensure that they have access to peer support across England, to look at why it works and to support its future sustainability.
Mind will deliver the programme alongside a number of partners including Bipolar UK. It starts in early 2015 and includes the opportunity for 45 groups and organisations to apply to run a project in one of nine areas in England, which are yet to be specified. Over 8,400 people with mental health problems are expected to volunteer to give and receive peer support during this project. Over the next few months Mind will also recruit six people with experience of giving and/or receiving peer support to join the programme advisory panel.
More information about the programme and how to get involved can be found on the peer support pages of the Mind website.
Paul Farmer, Mind's Chief Executive, said: "We’re grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for its backing of the Peer Support Programme. It presents us with an outstanding opportunity to build on our understanding of how to deliver effective peer support, so that thousands more people can benefit from interacting and supporting others who have been through similar things.
“This is a programme we’re doing in partnership and we look forward to working with Depression Alliance and Bipolar UK, alongside a number of other partners, to deliver the programme and further our collective understanding of what peer support can do. We already know from the 16,000 people on Mind’s own online peer support community, Elefriends, the huge benefits of people with mental health problems supporting each other. Peer support can help people realise for the first time that they are not alone and it can also bring confidence to those who share their lived experiences and help others.”
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair added: “The Big Lottery Fund has a long history of supporting mental health charities. The project receiving funding today fills a gap in what is already being done by piloting a new, coordinated approach to mental health peer support work within England. It focuses on voluntary sector provision of peer support services and has a great potential to influence long-lasting change on a national level of how mental health support is delivered to those who need it the most.“