THIS week is Mental Health Awareness Week and peer supporters at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a provider of mental health and disability services, are proudly commemorating a celebration event to reflect on the successful integration of 'Peer Supporters' in North Cumbria.

Tyne Percival, a peer supporter supervisor at CNTW, said: “In January 2021, nine peer support workers began working in various teams across inpatient, community and access services.

"The introduction of Peer Support has gone better than we could ever have expected and one year later we have expanded our workforce to 21 Peer Supporters with a further 20 posts currently in the recruitment stages.”

The leadership team in North Cumbria have really invested in their commitment to having Peer Support become an integral part of all services and we are so pleased to find that every service team has been really curious about Peer Support, wanting to learn more about how it could help them deliver better care and support service users and carers more effectively.

Each team who has been joined by a Peer Supporter has given them the time to explore and develop this new role, which is so valuable.

Every Peer Supporter’s role is a little bit different, particularly depending on what type of service they are part of.

Some peers work with carers and have developed peer-led carer support groups, as well as making individual calls to carers to check on their wellbeing.

They might offer visits to people who we are supporting in the community. Some help service users to engage with care planning, to ensure they’re involved in steering their own treatment.

But everywhere they work, Peer Supporters offer connection and a mutual shared experience to the people we support.