Peer Support Pilot goes live!

“Side by Side” is part of a nationwide pilot scheme set up to explore the benefits of peer support for people with mental health problems. Peer support is the name used to describe support given and received on an equal basis, by people who share something in common. For mental health problems this can include befriending, mentoring and support groups or forums.

The “Side by Side” programme was set up by Mind in partnership with Bipolar UK and Depression Alliance, after they were awarded 3.2 million by the Big Lottery Fund. The programme aims to increase access to peer support across England, find evidence of its effectiveness and encourage local services to offer peer support. To do this, “Side by Side” has funded 37 grant projects in nine areas of England including Kensington and Chelsea.

Locally, the “Side by Side” project will be working with local organisations in Kensington, Chelsea, Paddington and Queens Park, who are interested in developing or expanding peer support within their organisations.   The project will be organising free networking events, where people will have access to advice, information, expert guidance and training.

Zoe Copeland, project lead for Kensington and Chelsea Mind said: “We are delighted to have been selected to be part of the “Side by Side” programme. Over the next two years we will be working to create a dynamic learning community to raise awareness about the value and benefit of peer support, help organisations get started and influence mental health commissioners to commission sustainable peer support projects for the future.”

Karen Mellanby, Director of Networks and Communities at Mind, said: ”One in four people will experience a mental health problem every year, yet often we have little choice about what treatment we receive. This can lead to many of us feeling isolated and not in control of our lives. Peer support allows people to use their experiences to help others and to get support from others who have experienced mental health problems.  “Side by Side” is gathering evidence of good practice and the benefits of peer support across a range of projects. We hope that the project will improve access to peer support so that many more people can benefit from it.”

 Anyone interested in finding out more should visit our website at www.kcmind.org.uk for information about the project and our first “Side by Side” networking event in October, 2015.