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Meet the team: #involve4impact18


  • Jane Salazar - leader in community peer support, peer support consultant for Mind and champion of equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Lucy Armitage - previous mental health service user, expert in community empowerment and collaborative dialogue

We propose to facilitate conversations across England between:

Our four regional workshops will empower different communities and interests to have a genuine say. Enhancing knowledge exchange between participants about each other’s views, values, information and current behaviours. Leading to new understanding, new trust, sustainable change and more accessible peer support to those who want it.


NHS England states that peer support sitsat a boundary between formal, statutory health care and community-based support1. As such, it may be intentionally grown from either within the system, or from within the community.

Vidhya Alakeson (CEO, Power to change) speaks of the need for commissioners and professionals – who traditionally hold power in the health system – to have more opportunities to build relationships with community businesses in order to shift current thinking and practice2.

And Q lab reports ‘If the vision for the future is to increase the provision and uptake of peer support services within health care settings, it will be important to create spaces in which to explore these areas of complexity, and to provide support to help people navigate them’3.

Our proposed workshops will open up the conversation to explore these

questions and lead to collaborative solutions. Using proven techniques

including asset-based community development and appreciative enquiry,

we work to create a constructive atmosphere. We do that by helping

people focus on what’s working well and use that as a foundation for

working out what else needs to happen. 

Some of what we already know

We have been working with a group of leaders (GetUpSetUp) delivering voluntary community peer support across England. They expressed an openness to working with their local healthcare providers and would welcome opportunities to meet and exchange knowledge, to be ‘seen, heard and understood’4.

At the National Voices Conference 2018, Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of RCGP, highlighted how the 10-minute appointment system for GPs often compromised the third element of the medical consultation: the social5. Nesta’s Health Lab determined an antecedent for GPs not connecting people to peer support as lack of knowledge of what’s available in their local area6.

Q lab reports that people are having to be creative to find new ways to get their services known about and understood7. And that ‘there is little evidence about what matters to health care professionals when deciding whether to refer or recommend peer support services, and what they might need when making this decision’8.

What are we proposing to do?

To start this conversation towards new pathways for accessible peer support we propose to run four workshops across the country in four different regions. In total, bringing together 60 leaders in primary healthcare and 60 leaders in independent peer support.


Workshops will be geographically spread across England. Scoping for the four most suitable locations will be done at the start of the project.

Who will attend?

Leaders of voluntary community peer support from our existing network.

We will be calling for leaders from other peer support groups and primary healthcare practitioners who would like to be involved in this work via: the Q community, our network of direct contacts and social media platforms. 

We want to ensure workshop participants, both peer support leaders and primary health care practitioners, include those from diverse and marginalised communities.

Our workshops will be meticulously designed with the right balance of people in the room, a range of stakeholder dialogue techniques and by asking the right questions.

“A question not asked is a door not opened” – Marilee Goldberg9.

Engagement methods and facilitation techniques we will use include:

·      Adhering to clear rules of engagement – these are agreed by each group

·      Consensus building / stakeholder dialogue techniques to minimise power differentials and allow everyone to be heard

·      Parallel Thinking10 – clear sequencing of questions to help people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved

·      The positive approach of Asset Based Community Development11 and Appreciative Inquiry12

·      Respecting the 4Pi National Involvement Standards13

·      Capturing all views and perspectives into a final report with emerging themes clearly delineated and easy to access

·      Evaluating levels of success

·      Evaluating demographics – did we reach and engage a diversity of people from local communities?

What are the desired outcomes?

Our work starts off at a local level – and within each workshop’s local community aims to create:

·      increased understanding of barriers and constraints

·      acceptance of differences

·      real sustainable solutions

·      trusting relationships

·      more accessible community peer support

·      improved social capital 

The wider scope of this work will be the cross-over of threads and learning that emerge from each local conversation. Put together, these conversations can start to build up strategic thinking about how to create new pathways for accessible peer support to all those who want it. This work could become a toolkit, a resource that can be used again and again.

A longer term outcome is that learning about peer support becomes an integral part of education and training for all healthcare students.

Benefits for the Q community

·      our work will build on Q lab’s report – ‘What we’ve learned about peer support’7

·      outputs from each workshop and the final combined report will provide detail of barriers, opportunities and collaborative solutions

·      the learning that is achieved through the process becomes a resource for all to use

·      opportunity to build on the evidence of this work to achieve impact for pathways to peer support

How you can contribute

  • Support from Q members who are interested in peer support, collaborative approaches and innovation for change.
  • We invite Q members to share comments and suggestions about who we invite to attend our workshops – from primary healthcare and from community peer support within 4 different local areas.
  • Asking us questions – remember, “a question not asked is a door not opened”.

Further information

references (PDF, 32KB)


  1. Hi Oliver, I’d be delighted to support you in the project if you like? Thanks for asking. I’m very interested in your methodology-I use Appreciative inquiry not only in QI and Service User Engagement but also in Medical Education and am also very interested in the development of asset based communities which I support here in Sheffield through our neighbourhood projects in association with primary care and the CCG

    1. Hi Helen, apologies for my delay in getting back to you. Your support would be greatly appreciated, I will get in touch via email? I am very keen to hear more about your work! Lets be in touch

  2. Hi Oliver. Suzanne here from the Health Foundation. This sounds like a really interesting idea. Have you seen the latest essays from the Q Lab published last week?

    Essay #3 "How people make decisions about peer support?" seems particularly relevant to your proposal and might be useful in helping design the workshops. shares the results of the Q Lab's nationwide survey on decision making in peer support and has some really interesting findings about what different groups of health care professionals and the public think are the most important factors when making decisions about accessing or recommending peer support. I hope it is helpful and good luck with your bid.

    1. Hi Suzanne, thank you for your comment and wishing us luck with our bid. The essays look like a great resource and will definitely be useful to work up our bid. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Guest

    Sheila Glenn 3 years, 6 months ago

    I like the proposal Oliver and the outcomes that can be achieved. I wonder if being clear about the target audience may help e.g. mental health. I realise another person commented upon keeping this open and see where it gets you and I like that approach however my concern is that when asking for funding , funders usually want a bit more specificity.

    1. Thank you for your comments Sheila, it is greatly appreciated. I am pleased that you like the proposal; I will take your comments onboard to refine the proposal to help clarify the points you have highlighted. Of course, if you were interested in being involved in any way then please let me know.

  4. I like this. It’s broad in scope and I think one of it’s important features is that you haven’t specified where you are going... start with a some conversations and see what happens...

    1. Thank you for your support and for highlighting a key element of our proposal: let's see where this leads to. Do you have any suggestions about who would be interested in attending our workshops? Are you interested in directly being involved in any way in this project?

  5. I'm not clear whether you are building on the work in mental health (Mind's GetupSetup and Side by Side work) and assuming that this is about peer support in mental health? or whether this project is to extend it beyond mental health?

    1. Thank you for asking this question, it is a very important one. Hopefully the following will help answer your questions; please be in touch if you have any more questions. We welcome suggestions of who is best suited to be included in the workshops.

      to some extent we are building on the work of GetUpSetUp. Through this project we saw the need for collaborative work between the independent peer support groups and primary care
      this was also highlighted to us by the Q lab report
      regarding Side by Side - that was a project run by Mind and local Minds. The outputs from GetUpSetUp influenced their tool kit
      GetUpSetUp is sponsored by Mind, but remains an independent project, led and delivered by those with lived experiences.
      At this stage, we are open to ideas and suggestions of which peer support groups to invite into this project. This will be driven by each local area and community.
      we aim to reach and include a range of groups but they must be able to show they are independent, peer-led, community based and centred around supporting the mental health or emotional wellbeing of their members
      we also aim to reach and include a range of primary healthcare leaders to create an equitable balance of professional roles

  6. I'm really interested in this, as we have a women-led, peer support group (online and in person) across Wales for women with chronic health conditions. We could share a lot of reflections on how this has worked for us and how we think it could work for others.

    1. Thank you for your comment, it is great to hear about the work you are doing in Wales. I agree, it would be good to share our knowledge. Let's keep in contact as our projects develop further and identify opportunities where out work overlaps or in areas of future work.


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