The Leeds Peer Support Network is a group of individuals and organisations who are passionate about peer support.


Hello and welcome to the Leeds Peer Support Network.

The network has been around since 2015 and was originally developed from a National Community Big Lottery Project called Side by Side funding but as the network began to grow; Leeds Mind and Women’s Lives Leeds began to explore new ways of the network being co-owned and produced by its members. The administration of the network would be managed by a steering group.

If you are passionate about peer support and how the network develops then use the contact us page.


Definition of Peer Support

At a past LPSN meeting, we discussed what peer support is and what it means for people:

Peer Support activities are used, delivered, developed and led, on an equal and mutual basis, by people with shared experiences, in order to better manage their well being.

Peer support is understood in many different ways because it is created and owned by the people who take part. At its core, peer support is about the relationships that people build as they share their own experiences to help and support each other.

We welcome all types of Peer Support activities and recognise Peer Support can develop in any form or setting; as a structured activity, or far more informally.


In order to capture and develop diversity around peer support, a meeting was held to discuss this in June 2017;

Developing diversity in peer support

This topic was selected by the members present as a key area they wished to discuss. In order to facilitate greater participation we split into three groups. Interestingly all the groups split their discussions into Challenges and Solutions.

It is of note these writings are not designed to be full minutes of the discussions, but the general capture of ideas. It is also of note that the thoughts and opinions raised are are of the people who were present. Leeds Peer Support Network doesn’t endorse any particular viewpoint. The notes are designed to be a helpful recap if you are unable to attend the meeting or if you wish to reflect back on key elements.

Challenges/Points of interest around challenges:

  • Reaching different communities
  • Diversity is not just about colour or race – disabled access/hearing/LD etc
  • Cultural concerns/Stigma of accessing support/differences – is it colonising behaviour?
  • Top down design
  • Unconscious Bias
  • Language barriers
  • “Don’t know what peer support is?”
  • Access barriers – costs of childcare/transport/location/timings of services
  • Lack of diversity in organisational teams

Ideas for Solutions:

  • Know your community – or involve someone who does
  • Create project according to need – cut also keeping it real. At the heart of peer support is the narrative of personal experience
  • Use different models eg community messengers maybe not all groups
  • Promote engagement by using strategies of community development – attend local meetings with pop ups about all services and run activities which promote similarities
  • Use all opportunities to talk about peer support to both spread the word (don’t stay context specific) and to normalise the idea that people giving peer support offer solutions by using their previous experiences
  • Check language is clear and simple
  • Talk positively about what people have to offer
  • Challenge diversity within workplace settings – also further training of existing staff –
  • Organisational change
  • Target publicity according to populations
  • Find funding where possible to offer childcare/transport

A city-wide peer support learning event took place in November 2018, with smaller peer support network mornings running quarterly up until November 2019.

In the last meeting members discussed what they wanted out of the network, including;

Membership

Different topics

Connection with other small peer support organisations

Learning from others

Masterclass session

Resource sharing – Mindwell session

LPSN has started a membership page and tools and resources section on its website. A new survey has been circulated to decide on 2020’s focus.

The network continues to reach out to a wider range of peer support practitioners in Leeds, with the steering group planning further events in 2020.