Helping others through Peer Support
Adam uses his experience of mental illness to support customers in our specialist-supported housing services. He explains how he and other Peer Support Workers help individuals to recover their wellbeing, rebuild their independence and flourish.
I recently joined Peabody after finishing a degree in Counselling and Working with Children, Young People and Families. I work in our mental health services in Islington and Hackney and have really enjoyed it so far.
Being a Peer Support Worker is a varied role. Essentially, I provide one-to-one support for individuals, as well as running group activities in our services, like relaxation, art and creative writing. I also run more informal sessions, like catchups over coffee and ‘walk-and-talks’.
I know how hard it is to have mental ill health, which is why I’m determined to help others who are struggling in whatever way I can.
One of my highlights has been the Jubilee weekend BBQ we held at one of our schemes. It was a lovely summer’s day and the jubilant atmosphere led to a wonderful afternoon. We dyed t-shirts, played music and ate good food. It was great to see the customers enjoy themselves and relax.
Kyle, one of our customers, said: “I enjoyed the food, music and it was good support from staff.”
Another highlight from my first few months as a Peer Support Worker was simpler: one of our customers who is quite insular and isolated came to my relaxation group and said he loved it. This was a big win for him and it marks great personal progress. Though my role can be challenging at times, there is nothing better than positive feedback and a feeling that I have helped someone, even in a small way. The little things can sometimes make the biggest difference.
I believe good rapport is especially important within mental health settings, so my first two months in the role involved lots of relationship building. Having a strong bond means I know when to try and engage with our customers, and when to give them space.
I always try and focus on what our customers want, instead of taking the lead and planning the things I think will help. Everyone likes doing different things and some people prefer one-to-one conversations than others. Knowing our customers helps me to adapt my approach.
It’s great to be around other experienced team members and learn from them too. We have regular group supervision and reflective practice meetings. It’s a chance to share with other Peer Support Workers what’s going well and what’s more difficult in a non-judgemental environment. As it’s in a group format, it helps me see that I’m not the only person who finds this or that aspect of work challenging. Whenever someone says they’re struggling with something, we collaboratively come up with a solution.
Being a Peer Support Worker has been an incredible experience. It’s so rewarding to make a difference for our customers, and it’s also turned my own experience of mental illness into something worthwhile.Read more about our services for people with mental ill health