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Q Lab peer support workshop 13-14 July: Live blog

We’re live-blogging at the Q Lab’s 2-day workshop (lunchtime 13 July until lunchtime 14 July) on peer support.

Around 55 people from across health and care (and beyond) will be at the Barbican to work on the Q Lab’s 12-month challenge: What would it take for effective peer support to be available to everyone who wants it to help manage their long-term health and wellbeing needs?

We’ll also be tweeting from @theQCommunity (#QLabs). Get involved by either tweeting or posting a comment below. We will feedback any questions and/or thoughts into the workshop.

Update: A summary of all of the outputs and insights from the July workshop is now available here.

14 July – workshop day 2

Day 2 summary video:

1:00pm: Close and lunch

And we’re done!

A huge thank you to all those that came. We hope you got as much out of the workshop as the Q Lab team did.

Feel free to keep the conversation going using #Qlabs. Profile cards will also be shared with workshop attendees.

12:50pm: Next steps

The Lab will be taking the next couple of weeks to absorb all that was discussed in the workshop and the ideas that everyone has put forward. Some ideas are concrete, others need a bit more work but that is ok. Very excited by what we’ve discussed in the workshop and looking forward to working with everyone over the coming months.

12:30pm: Closing remarks from Tracy Webb:

  • The last 2 days have felt like a roller coaster – hard, difficult but hopeful.
  • There is a risk that we oversimplify the challenges of peer support and the discussions that we’ve had.
  • An ask for all attendees: If you’ve had rich and meaningful discussions, help the Lab not to lose that. Share with us what you think is important that we shouldn’t loose. Whether it is now, or on the way home, write it down and let us know. Let’s all try to capture and share what is hard to capture through post-it notes.
  • The conversations have been diverse but some common questions have been raised throughout about where peer support sits. It is easy to revert to types, or through a system lense. We need to be thoughtful about the next stages that is not interpreted in a language or way that reinforces status quo. There have also been different ideological viewpoints – it is hard, real-life but believe it will move us on.

11:55am: Thoughts from attendees

Professor Nicola Thomas talks to us about her thoughts for peer support next steps:

11:40am: Critiquing our work

After a well-deserved coffee break, the whole now have the opportunity to learn about what each group has been working on, and give feedback and critique to our work and ideas.

10:30am: Discussions: Ideas and solutions

Each group is discussing ideas and ways that we can start to scale-up peer support in the coming weeks, through new collaborations and paving the way for a step-change in the next 5-10 years.

It’s a challenge to capture the richness of those discussions in a blog but they are ranging from organising a national peer support week, advocating for ‘peer support wellbeing’ roles, collaborating with other national bodies on peer support and arranging visits to local GPs to promote peer support services.

9:47am: Different ideas at different levels

Tracy Webb introduces the next task, asking each of the four groups to think about:

  • What we can do in the 4 weeks to make progress on each challenge?
  • What new collaborations can we make in the coming months to make progress?
  • What can we do over the next year to pave the way for larger change in the next 5-10 years?

9:45am: The votes are in!

The challenges that we will be working on for the rest of the workshop are:

  1. Ensure health professionals routinely and reliably refer to, and promote, peer support services.
  2. Shifting power from ‘over’ to ‘with’.
  3. Create equity between peer support and medical model.
  4. Use lived experience to drive the system.

9:30am: Vote which issues to take forward!

Everyone now votes for the top 4-6 challenges to work on for the rest of the day – thinking about ideas and solutions and for everyone to take back something actionable.

The challenges are summarised below. Which ones would you vote for?


  1. Peer support available to meet diverse needs
  2. Ensure health professionals routinely and reliably refer to, and promote, peer support services.
  3. Access appropriate peer support services regardless of geography
  4. Increase signposting to peer support and improve existing signposting
  5. Experience peer a peer support service that people have confidence in

Buy-in and culture

  1. Perception of risk
  2. Barriers to collaboration
  3. Competing priorities (money, time, people)
  4. Shifting power from ‘over’ to ‘with’.


  1. Routine collection and use of data
  2. Use lived experience to drive the system
  3. Not customising messages to the audience
  4. Create well-rounded evidence base to increase peer support


  1. Lack of workforce best practices: training and support
  2. Create equity between peer support and medical model
  3. Making peer support working work (role and description)
  4. Culture of evidence based medicine

8:45am: The day starts

Libby Keck introduces the day. With everyone sat in their ‘peer groups’ we do a listening exercise to get us thinking about some of the core principles of peer support, as well as review yesterday’s ‘hopes and fears’.

8:45am: Group photo

What a beautiful bunch of people 🙂

8:00am: Set-up for day 2

ICYMI, here’s what we covered yesterday:

The Q Lab team getting the room ready for day 2!

13 July – workshop day 1

5:00pm: End of day 1

It’s been an intense day of trying to get to the root of some of the major challenges facing peer support. People continue to stay at the Barbican to make connections and network, while the rest are heading to their accommodation.

Tomorrow will focus on solutions and ideas, kicking off at 9am.

4:15pm: Feeding back to the group

Each table have shared their challenges to the rest of the group, talking about their challenge area, the chosen issue and why it is important. We’re almost getting to the point of choosing what to take forward to day 2.

Right now, attendees are taking the time to read the pitches in more detail and reflect on what has been shared.

3:50pm: Problem segmentation

The task now is to delve down into the detail of each of the issues prioritised. What are the related wider challenges and what are the component parts?

3:30pm: Picking 2-4 issues

The challenge now is for each table to prioritise 2-4 issues each to take forward and delve in to. Not an easy task when so many issues, from a variety of perspectives, have been discussed.

The table that I’m sat on are trying to explore how different ‘access’ challenges might be combined, to have most impact.

3:10pm: A well deserved cake and coffee break

3:00pm: Spotting common themes

Each table trying to spot the common themes coming out across all perspectives. Facilitators working hard! (But coffee is on the horizon.)

2:20pm: In pairs, thinking about the peer support challenges from a range of perspectives

Key questions:

  1. Access: What are the issues around ensuring people have access to, and make the most of, peer support services?
  2. Buy-in and culture: What makes it difficult (for this person) to prioritise and promote peer support services?
  3. Evidence: What evidence is needed to build the case for peer support? What is stopping us from maximising the existing evidence?
  4. Workforce: What are the issues that make it difficult to train, support, connect and integrate peer support workers?

What do you think about the above questions?

To help us develop a system-wide understanding of the issue, and come at it from a range of view points, we’re picking the challenge from the point of view of a range of people: providers, people who use peer support, commissioners, GPs, charities etc.

2:10pm: Discussion

After the reading, people are to eager to discuss reflections and thoughts.

1:48pm: Time to read the research

The briefing notes on the challenges areas have been shared (you can also download them here).

In addition to the challenge areas, we’ve also been reflecting on case studies and powerful quotes from the ethnographic interviews:

1:30pm: First task: Hopes and fears

We’re sat at tables but these are now our peer support groups.

Using the groups to check-in and make sure everyone is ok and achieving their own objectives over the two days.

Lots of passion for peer support, with views on peer support challenges being exchanged early on:

“Peer support should be recognised as the valuable tool that it is.”

“Even with the evidence, you still need to prove it.”

“We have to evaluate everything to death, but there are other parts of the system are not – it’s just because they’ve been in the system for years.”

1:16pm: Introduction to the four challenge areas

Hannah Patel, Q Lab Insight Manager, shares the results of the Lab’s research over the last couple of months.

The challenge areas are also up on the Q website in a blog.

The four challenges are:

  1. Access: Thinking about how people know about peer support services and address cultural diversity.
  2. Buy-in and culture: Looking at points of view from the public, peer support services and the wider system.
  3. Evidence: Building on Realizing the Value but there are still gaps. How do we generate evidence, and then communicate it?
  4. Workforce: Training and supporting workers, perspectives from both those who receive peer support and peer support workers.

1:00pm: We’ve started!

Welcome from Tracy Webb, Head of Labs.

“We can’t talk about Q Labs without first talking about Q” – Tracy gives an introduction to Q and how it is growing. Lots of Q members here today, go and chat to them if you want to find out more.

  • The Q Lab is inspired by quality improvement, other innovation Labs and recognises the importance of people and relationships.
  • The Labs are at an early stage. It’s exciting, great backing and everyone today (and beyond) are a part of that.
  • But now on to why we’re here… to think about peer support
  • Three phases for the Lab this year: 1) Research and discovery, 2) Idea generation and 3) distilling and spreading the learning. We are currently in between 1) and 2).

12:20pm: Lab people arrive

50 people from across the UK, working in health, care and beyond, arrive at the Barbican for the workshop. The group is diverse including people in primary care, commissioners, social care, housing, charities and more.

We asked each attendee to write a profile card outlining their interest in peer support. So much expertise to draw on over the two days.

11:00am: Final huddle before attendees arrive

9:43am: Attendees are on their way

8:59am: The Q Lab team have arrived!

12 July – the day before the big day

3:02pm: For your information…

Even if you’re not attending the workshop we welcome your comments, thoughts and inputs across the two days and we’ll be sharing as much as we can.

A bit of background information which might be helpful:

2:00pm: Final run-through…

Q Lab final run through

The Q lab team gather for a final run-through of the agenda. It’s going to be an intense, collaborative but fun two-days!

1:00pm: Workshop materials all packed up and ready to go!

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