About the Hub

What is the Hub?

The Peer Support Hub is an online bank of high quality, curated resources for people looking to measure, evaluate, sustain and grow different types of peer support programmes.

Resources can be in a wide range of formats including reports, toolkits, videos, presentations and journal articles.

The Peer Support Hub was developed with the Q Improvement Lab and is supported by the Health Foundation. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

What is peer support?

While there are many ways that people can choose to define peer support, all of those definitions will have some key similarities and core values. In general, peer support is where people draw on shared personal experiences, characteristics or circumstances in order to support each other to improve their health and wellbeing. What makes peer support different is the mutual approach of giving and receiving support in two-way interactions. Other core values of peer support include safety and choice and control in the peer support setting.

Peer supporters can be people with similar health conditions, or from similar communities or backgrounds. The support offered is often through sharing experiences, as well as providing knowledge, social interaction, emotional assistance and practical help.

Peer support can take many different formats (such as being face to face or online) and often has a specific theme or focus. It can be formalised with trained and employed peer workers who manage a programme, or it can be more informal and flexible and operate independently of anything else.

Who is the Hub for?

A key aim of the Peer Support Hub is to curate a list of high quality resources about how to measure, evaluate, sustain and grow various types of peer support offers. As a consequence the resources that the Hub links to are aimed at helping and supporting people who have already set up a peer support programme and want support or advice to better it in some way.

While some of the resources may also include information on setting up peer support programmes, this is not the primary purpose of the Hub at this time.

How does it work?

The Hub works similarly to any search engine; you enter key words based on what you are looking for. You are then able to narrow down the search results to find what you are looking for.

We know that there is lots of information out there on this topic so what is different about the Hub is that we only link to the resources that we think are the best quality. Working with leading experts in peer support, we have created a test to ensure that only resources that have been developed and presented to the highest quality are put on the Hub.

The Hub does not store any information or resources itself. Instead it links to resources stored elsewhere online.

(see also How was the Hub built?)

Why do so many of the resources on the Hub focus on mental health and HIV?

Peer support is for everyone. It is not only for people with mental health or HIV. However because peer support as a practice is more established in both the mental health and HIV communities, and has been used as a self-management tool in these fields for some time, quite a lot of the resources that have been developed do relate to these two conditions. Despite this, there are still many lessons that can be learned from peer support in these conditions that can be used in programmes for other conditions or communities.

What do ‘Hub recommended’ and ‘community upload’ mean?

In order to find out which were the best quality resources, the Hub’s working group designed a decision matrix to test each resource (see below for a copy of the matrix). All of the resources that scored the highest on this test are marked as ‘Hub recommended’ and are shown at the top of search results. Being ‘Hub recommended’ means that these resources are particularly good examples that we think you might find useful.

In addition to the resources we have uploaded and recommended, other users of the Hub can upload their own resources. They might upload resources they have written themselves or it might be resources they have found and would like to recommend to others.

We don’t assess these uploads against our decision matrix so they are listed as a ’community upload’.

How do I suggest a resource for the Hub?

On the Hub home page you can click ‘suggest a resource’ and fill in a form to provide all the details of a resource you think should go on the Hub. There is a separate guide on how to fill this form in which you can find below and on the ‘suggest a resource’ page.

Once this has been submitted, it will be reviewed by the National Voices team who will add the resource to the Hub as a community upload.

At present, it is not possible to request that your uploaded resource is listed as Hub Recommended. However once a year all community uploads are reviewed against the decision matrix and those to be found of highest quality will be reclassified as appropriate.

What’s not included on the Hub?

We have only focused on resources that will help people either measure, evaluate, grow or sustain peer support programmes. We do not require the entire resource to be dedicated to one of these purposes so some resources may have other additional information too.

Resources that do not meet one of these aims are not included on the Hub.

While training volunteers is indeed a good way to grow or sustain a peer support offer, we have only included information about peer training if it specifically relates to providing ongoing or refresher training rather than training during the initial stages of setting up a group.

How was the Hub built?

At a National Voices and Mind peer support research event held in summer 2017, delegates highlighted significant difficulties in accessing useful evidence and tools for developing peer support. Less than a week later, The Health Foundation-backed Q Improvement Lab hosted the second of its workshops at which delegates identified capturing evidence about peer support as one of the Lab’s three priority areas of work.

It soon became clear that while the tools, resources and evidence for peer support exist, they are so widely scattered across the internet that finding relevant high quality materials is an arduous task.

With funding from Mind, National Voices undertook a scoping exercise to see if we could develop a solution to this problem. During the scoping we conducted different surveys and engagement events and then received funding from The Health Foundation to build the Peer Support Hub.

We started by pulling together a working group of experts in the field of peer support. They include people from NHS England, Mind, Positively UK, Self Help UK and Versus Arthritis. Together we created the decision matrix to test what makes a good quality resource before commissioning the evidence centre to perform a literature review on what exists. We then worked with our web developers to build an easy to navigate online portal for finding relevant peer support resources.

With special thanks to the following organisations for their support:

What if I have more questions?

If you have any questions or want to talk to the team about the Hub please email peersupport@nationalvoices.org.uk or call 020 3176 0738.