Research by the Mental Health Foundation shows that peer support can significantly improve people’s wellbeing, meaning they have fewer hospital stays, larger support networks, and better self-esteem and social skills. 

It’s often said that there is nobody better qualified to understand a person’s hardship than someone who has lived with the same thing. That sharing of experiences, thoughts and behaviours is unreplicable, providing a unique bond from which to build a strong peer to peer relationship.  

My role in the Trust is as a Peer Support Worker for the Work Your Way service. I work alongside our dedicated Employment Specialists to help clients into paid jobs which suit their skills, talents and ambitions.  

One of the reasons the vacancy appealed to me was that I had walked the same path as those I would be employed to work with and could offer an empathetic viewpoint and unique perspective. 

Last year wasn’t easy, I was struggling with poor mental health and feeling a little lost and directionless. I relied on employment support services to lift my motivation levels, remind me of my worth and skills, and travel alongside me as I tried to rebuild my career. I valued the reassurance they provided a great deal, as well as the security of knowing I was not alone in my quest to find meaningful work that I could enjoy without fear. 

I now want to share my experiences and what worked for me with a view to making a positive impact on others in a similar position. Clients in the Work Your Way service are often under-confident, anxious, unsure and underestimate their ability and worth - something I understand very well. 

There are so many reasons why peer support can improve a person’s mental health recovery journey but these are just a few I encounter day to day…

Mutual empathy and understanding 

When experiencing hardship, it can feel like nobody truly understands or has ever felt the same way. Peer Support makes people feel less alone and in the company of somebody who has first hand, lived experience to share openly and honestly. It’s a vital part of the peer process and can be reassuring for both parties. 

Active listening 

A key skill of any Peer Support Worker is to listen without judgement and understand what another is going through. It is this ability to listen that most helps an individual to feel acknowledged, validated and assured. Peer supporters can then use open-ended questions to understand further and provide affirmations to reassure each other that they truly empathise. 

Seeking solutions

It is a misconception that peer support is about providing experience-based solutions and answers. A key part of our role is to help draw those from our clients and helping them to realise their own path through recovery and make their own decisions. It is a mutual process that involves honesty and openness and assisting another to reach productive conclusions safely. 

Complementing clinical support 

We work alongside clinical teams and specialists to offer a unique service that can’t always be achieved elsewhere. We complement an individual’s therapy and add value to the recovery process by offering a unique angle to what they are accessing already, whilst continuing to work towards the same goals for the client. We also take some of the reliance away from medical teams by providing an additional outlet for each person to receive tailored support and guidance. 

Providing reassurance 

One of the most valuable ways that peer support benefits a person is by providing a series of reassurances that can boost the wellbeing of an individual. We reassure people that they are not alone, that recovery is possible and that we can help them to achieve their goals. We also use our own experience to assure another that we understand and can genuinely empathise from a first-hand perspective. It is very hard to replicate this relationship elsewhere and makes our work incredibly rewarding as we see the benefits it can have on our clients and ourselves. 

To find out more about the Work Your Way service then please visit