A day in the life of a peer support development worker… Elsie
Arrive at work
My day starts by checking in at reception and setting up my equipment for the day, laptop… and of course, a cup of tea.
Once I’m set up and logged on, I start by working through my emails. I work part-time, so often have a lot to get through (emails from Thursday – Tuesday). Working through my emails involves responding to people within Manchester Mind and external organisations, it can include adding tasks to my ‘to-do’ lists, setting deadlines, and arranging meetings. It’s fair to say organisation skills are important here!
I then log on to our secure online database system, Civi. Here, I monitor any new referrals and make contact with people who have been newly referred.
Now that I’m caught up, it’s time to check in with group members who attend the peer support group scheduled on that day. I send an individual message through my work phone to check-in with group members and see what their thoughts are about attending. I also ‘announce’ a gentle reminder of the session in the community group chat accessed by willing group members.
I might get questions and responses from group members during this time, which I work through and answer.
During this time, I am also continuing with any admin that might have carried over from last week and working through my task list. Examples of this is sending information to group members who can no longer access peer support groups, about services at Manchester Mind and other organisations. This can also involve having phone call conversations and guiding people through the information, as well as completing referrals.
13:00 – 13:30
It’s important that I make sure I have a dinner break and get a break from my desk. I always use my dinner break to sit in the Zion café and read my kindle (whilst also enjoying my lunch).
Time for another cup of tea and preparing material for a 1:1 induction/supervision that I have with a newly recruited volunteer.
13:45 – 14:45
I head down to the Zion café to meet with the volunteer group facilitator. During supervision, we discuss the volunteer role and discuss agreements and expectations. We also complete a monitoring tool called the ‘Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWS)’. We do this to monitor the volunteer’s mental wellbeing; it’s important that we are supporting the wellbeing of volunteers as well as group members.
During the induction, we talk about training needed to become a volunteer group facilitator and explore what monthly supervision will look like for volunteers. We also discuss important policies, like our safeguarding policy and confidentiality policy and look at the ‘peer support toolkit’ which demonstrates some icebreakers and activities that volunteers can use.
To finish, we booked in a date for our next supervision and agreed on a date to shadow peer support groups.
15:00 – 15:30
I meet with another volunteer who is shadowing the peer support group for the first time. We spend half an hour checking in with thoughts/worries/questions associated with shadowing and decide how the group will be run and if there are any topics people have requested.
We also set up materials; most importantly tea, coffee, chairs, and comforts, such as pillows. Oh, and quickly running to Morrison’s to pick up milk.
15:30 – 17:30
Facilitate peer support groups. Today, we had 4 attendees (including the shadowing volunteer) and 1 facilitator. Facilitating the group includes group agreement, check-ins, discussing relevant topics relating to mental health, and sharing ideas and thoughts which relate to coping, recovery, and hope.
Half way through the group, we have a 5-10 minute comfort break where group members and group facilitators have the chance to go to the toilet, get another drink, take a walk, and have a breather.
In the final hour, we continue and finish discussions. The final hour also includes a ‘check-out’ where we reflect and acknowledge feelings/thoughts after peer support group.
17:30 – 18:00
Now that all members have left the group, it’s time to check-out with the volunteer group facilitator. During this time the volunteer reflects on their experience and asks questions about facilitation skills. The volunteers gets a chance to share worries and concerns that they have about group members and give an overall reflection about how the group went.
We end the day by clearing away our resources and tidying the room.