Sean’s Story: The power of peer support
I have seen first-hand how powerful peer support can be. While working in financial services, I had my own mental health struggles, which led me to attend peer support groups myself.
From listening to the lived experiences of others, people feel a sense of validation. It’s great to hear a lot of inspirational stories in a more relaxed environment than a professional clinical setting. So, when I took the role of Peer Support Development Worker I wanted to help bring together that lived experience.
Our traditional peer support sessions are run by volunteers who also have lived experience of mental health struggles. They last around two hours and involve 10 attendees sitting in a circle, checking in with each other.
We’ve received great feedback from the sessions. At the moment, we have six weekly groups running, two of which are brand new.
One of our new peer support groups is starting in Openshaw and has a special connection to me as the group is just around the corner from where I grew up. Being from Manchester, you get that connection to the local community. It’s the first peer support group in East Manchester and Manchester Mind have worked closely with the Manchester Settlement to make it possible.
Working in peer support you’re giving back to the whole community as well as the individual by bringing local people together and seeing them improve. Helping others makes you feel good and being from Manchester you get that sense of connection to the local community
Traditional Peer Support has been such a success that we’ve been able to launch a new Walk and Talk Peer Support in Alexandra Park in Moss Side. It still has the sit-down part of traditional peer support but it’s a bit shorter because we then take a 30 to 45-minute walk. It has an even more relaxed feel to it and you get to feel the benefits of nature and physical exercise.