A group of customers from a supported housing scheme in London recently took part in training to learn how to support their peers.

What is peer support?
This is when people use their own experiences to help other people. It can be done  in a variety of ways which include community groups, befriending or support groups.  It’s different from more traditional support options and it can improve emotional health and wellbeing and also bring about a sense of belonging.

The Ivydale sessions
Ten customers from a specialist scheme for people with learning disabilities attended sessions with Projects Officer Chris Barker. The sessions encouraged them to make decisions about common situations and to reflect on life’s positives. The training also included discussions about bullying and advice about keeping a balanced diet and finding ways to relax.

The weekly sessions ran for two hours. Participants were provided with cards and stationery as well as a series of different magazines for inspiration so that they could create beautiful collages (see above). At the end of each session, every customer was asked what positive thing they will do for the rest of the week. Answers varied from saving money, cooking a nice dinner to relax with friends or having fun.

One customer who took part, Princess, found the opportunity really enjoyable; “Peer support allowed me to think about different situations.  I like to talk and I was able to contribute a lot of information.”

All in all the sessions proved to be helpful and enjoyable for everyone who attended. Kell Byer, support worker from the scheme, really saw the benefit for his customers; “The sessions were very well organised and fostered a relaxing environment. Customers were given the opportunity to open up about situations in their life and everybody remained respectful when individuals talked.”