Building an online hub for peer support

Featured article - 27 March 2019
By Laura Bell, Communications and Engagement Officer, National Voices

Laura Bell, National Voices

When you have a long term physical or mental health condition, sometimes speaking to your friends, family or doctor isn’t quite enough. Sometimes, you just need to speak to someone who has experience of the condition themselves.

That’s where peer support can help. Peer support is when people draw on their own personal experiences to share knowledge and advice with others experiencing similar situations in a mutually beneficial way. It can be delivered in many ways, for example through a formalised group with trained facilitators or via one-to-one informal befriending.

Knowledge, skills, confidence and determination

The NICE Guideline on community engagement recommends that local areas support peer-led approaches like peer support to enable people in communities to help and understand each other. We know that peer support can help people to build knowledge, develop skills and maintain the confidence and determination they need to stay as healthy and in control as possible. We also know that people who take part in peer support value it highly.

But for the people running peer support programmes, proving their efficacy can be challenging. Commissioners are always looking for strong evidence that something works, but quantifying the impact of peer support – which is often psychological, social or emotional and develops over time – is difficult.

New peer support hub

That’s where National Voices’ Peer Support Hub comes in. The Hub is an online bank of high quality evidence and information about growing, measuring, evaluating and sustaining peer support. The Hub helps to inform and guide people and services who deliver peer support. So if, for example, you’ve been voluntarily running a weekly support group for gay and bisexual men who are living with cancer, and you’re now looking to get it commissioned by your local CCG, you could go to the Hub and find relevant resources on how others have measured and evaluated similar programmes.

We’ve also added a ‘community upload’ function so users can upload their own resources. If you’ve created or found a valuable resource that you think others could benefit from, add it to the Hub! By making it easier for people to access high quality information in one place, the Hub aims to boost the development of effective peer support in the UK.

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