Peer Support means different things to different people.
Peer Support at the SUN Service is recognising that the best people to help and support others are those who have faced similar difficulties and had similar experiences. This means that it is the members of the group that provide support for each other, they are experts by experience.
In the SUN Service members talk about their problems together. They try and come up with possible solutions to a problem shared, they may give advice or make suggestions, it’s all about supporting each other.
Sometimes problems have no solution but sharing it with others can ‘lighten the load’ and lessen feelings of isolation.
Giving support to others often helps the person giving it too, it helps people to feel valued. Coming up with solutions to other people’s problems can sometimes help deal with their own.
Support can also be provided in other ways for example, making a phone call during the group on behalf of another member or going along with someone to an appointment. It could also involve giving each other encouragement to try new activities which are often arranged among members such as creative and leisure activities, going bowling ,visits to the cinema etc.
It is important to say that people only do what they feel OK about, no one is expected to take on tasks or join in with anything they do not feel comfortable with.
Health care workers, with years of experience employed by SW London Mental Health Trust, are there to support the groups by making sure they run on time and that they are safe and supportive.