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National recognition for innovative peer support worker programme
10/09/2015

An innovative programme which gives people with lived experience of mental ill health the chance to inspire others on their journey to recovery has been given a national award in after making a real difference to people in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) peer support worker (PSW) training programme has been highly commended in the good practice awards run by the Care Coordination Association. It has received the recognition in the ‘promoting service user involvement in delivering effective care processes’ category.

The PSW programme gives those with lived experience of mental ill health the opportunity to work alongside NSFT’s clinical staff to offer emotional and practical support to help others find a way forward in their recovery and rebuild their lives in a meaningful way. PSWs can offer understanding, acceptance and empathy based on shared experience and – most importantly – can be a role model and an image of hope and possibility that recovery is possible.

NSFT has received the CCA award for the training programme it offers PSWs, which is spread across 13 weeks and includes a mixture of classroom-based training and clinical placements.

Judges described it as: “A robust approach to the development and implementation of the peer support model… The entry has at its core the very essence of recovery and service user involvement – any project which promotes and helps service users not only to be involved in their own recovery, but that of others should be applauded. Excellent.”

Currently 23 PSWs are in post across NSFT, working in areas such as adult services, acute services and the Norfolk Recovery Partnership. A further wave of PSWs have also been appointed to the new Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing Service, which is being delivered by NSFT in partnership with Relate and Mind.

Justine Brown, peer support worker coordinator with NSFT, said: “We are delighted to receive this national recognition for our peer support programme, which is making a real difference not just to the peer support workers but also the service users they are working with.

“The peer support workers complement the care our clinical teams provide, and offer vital emotional support and empathy as well as the ability to have different conversations.

“They are recruited as a direct result of their own lived experience, which they then use to inspire and role model others. All talk about their recovery in a very positive way and are happy to explain to others what they have learnt on that journey.

“All of the feedback we have received about our peer support workers has been incredibly positive, with service users appreciating the opportunity to talk to someone who knows exactly how they are feeling. The role also brings benefits to the peer support workers themselves, and is an important part of their ongoing recovery while helping them use their experience in a positive way.”

For more information or for details of future opportunities, email Justine Brown, peer support worker coordinator, on justine.brown@nsft.nhs.uk or visit www.nsft.nhs.uk/Get-involved/Pages/Peer-Support-Workers.aspx  ​