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The power of peer support: what we have learned from the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund

Author(s)

GRAHAM Jullie Tran, RUTHERFORD Katy

Publisher(s):

NESTA

Publication year:

2016

This report looks at the value of peer support and the part it can play in a people-powered health system. It also shares practical insights from 10 organisations involved in Nesta’s Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund on how peer support can be effectively scaled and spread to benefit more people. The ten case studies provide details of the peer support innovations and evidence of their impact to date. The peer support models developed included one-to-one peer support, group peer support and digital approaches. From the ten peer support innovations, the report highlights key learning about the realities of delivering peer support across a range of conditions and with very different groups of people. These covers engaging people in peer support; recruiting, training and supporting peer facilitators; and evaluating and improving peer support. The report finds that peer support has the potential to improve psychosocial outcomes, behaviour, wellbeing outcomes, and service use. It also found that reciprocity was an important motivator for volunteers and that the most effective volunteers were trained and well supported. It concludes with what the future might hold for those working with and commissioning peer support in England. Recommendations include developing relationships with public service professionals to help them understand the value of peer support and embedding peer support alongside existing services. (Edited publisher abstract)


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