Peer support groups

Peer support offered in a group setting. Groups are normally centred around a theme such as a shared medical diagnosis, a shared experience (e.g. being LGBT), or a shared interest (e.g. a gardening group). Groups can be structured, organised and facilitated in different ways. They can operate independently or as part of a wider network of groups.

Good practice in peer facilitated community mental health support groups. A review of the literature

This literature review sets out good practice when implementing peer support groups in the community for people with mental health issues. It seeks to develop an understanding of how such groups support inclusion and recovery and how they are run, and draws learning from existing good practice to inform further community group development. The project aim was to inform the work of St. Mungo’s Broadway and partners in further developing the community group network and in influencing the local commissioning of such services.

Evaluation report: peer support groups to facilitate self-help coping strategies for people with dementia in extra care housing

This report summarises an evaluation of peer support groups for people with dementia who live in secured housing. It shows the evaluation methods used to collect data on participants’ physical functioning, social relationships, wellbeing, expectations of the group and orientation in time. The evaluation also reviews the experiences of those who set up and maintained the group including members of staff from the housing provider, key stakeholders from the project advisory group, Mental Health Foundation staff, and the group facilitator.

Quantifying the benefits of peer support for people with dementia: A Social Return on Investment (SROI) study

Peer support for people with dementia and carers is routinely advocated in national strategies and policy as a post-diagnostic intervention. However there is limited evidence to demonstrate the value these groups offer. This study looked at three dementia peer support groups in South London to evaluate what outcomes they produce and how much social value they create in relation to the cost of investment.

Peer support resource manual

This manual from Canada focuses on setting up and maintaining peer support programmes for people with a mental illness. It includes a step-by-step outline of how to develop a peer support programme as well as a recruitment and training curriculum for peer supporters. It has a number of forms and templates that can be used for evaluations.

Evaluation of Positively UK’s gay & bisexual men’s project

This evaluation was carried out at the end of year two of a three-year project that was set up to provide support to gay and bisexual men living with HIV. It was informed by quantitative and qualitative data, including an online survey completed by over 100 project participants. The project goal was to empower service users to successfully transition to effective self-management and independent living with HIV. The document is an example of an independently commissioned evaluation of a service and could act as a template for others to base their own evaluations.

Reach project evaluation

This evaluation aimed to explore the components and processes by which the peer support service delivered by Positively UK enables people living with HIV to improve and/or maintain their engagement with clinical services. Key areas for investigation included behaviour change and management influenced by client engagement with peer support services, interaction between peer support and other services, and the extent to which peer support services are focused on solving challenges and/or providing opportunities to clients.

Developing peer support in the community

This toolkit was coproduced as part of Mind's 'Side by Side' project. The toolkit gives some guidance on how to better understand and communicate your impact, what the core principles of peer support mean, ways to facilitate and coordinate projects, ways to balance organisational support with independence, troubleshooting solutions to challenges, and advice for funders and comissioners.

Supporting peer support: thoughts for people wanting to set up, run or participate in a peer support group

This guide contains tips for developing peer support. The booklet was written based on lessons learned during the facilitation of Evaluation Exchange; a time-limited peer support network created in Scotland. It aimed to help organisations in the social services sector to learn from and support each other to undertake evaluations of the services and support they provide. It also gives suggestions that may be helpful for those wanting to expand into different areas or different types of support.

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