People who have experience of mental health conditions are helping others on their journey to recovery, by accompanying them to appointments and offering support and reassurance.
In a pioneering pilot scheme, volunteer Peer Buddies have been recruited for the Hand-in-Hand project in Islington and have been given training in all aspects of peer support.
Each volunteer has committed to offer at least one day a week to helping service users who need support attending appointments, services, activities, green spaces and events.
They remind service users about where and when the appointments are, and accompany them, helping plan travel routes, offering reassurance about what they should expect on arrival and signposting people to other sources of community support
The lived experience of people with mental health conditions and recovery is an important resource that we are using to shape and inform our changes to mental health community services. Experts by Experience, Peer Support Workers and volunteers across North Central London are helping us understand the needs of service users and support them during recovery.
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) is running the pilot scheme in partnership with Manor Garden’s Welfare Trust, Islington MIND, Islington Council, The SidebySide Network, Islington Borough Users Group and the Nubian Users Forum.
Cerdic Hall, Manager of the Choice and Control Peer Coaching Service at C&I, said: “One of the big problems for people with mental health conditions is actually getting to appointments, for many reasons. It could be because the nature of their condition means they feel overwhelmed, anxious or disorganised around getting to places.
“Peer Buddies will help them to get to appointments so that they get the help and connection they need. A lot of the volunteers do it because it is a good way of giving back and helping others. It also means that they get valuable training and experience, which could lead them into other roles in future.”
The Hand in Hand pilot is now running across Islington and if successful, will be extended to other areas.
To find out more, or if you think the Hand in Hand project could help you please contact: Stephen@manorgardenscentre.org