Learning from Peer Support for Women Event

On July 18th , Women’s Lives Leeds held a meeting to see if there was an interest locally in a gendered approach to Peer Support.

This followed discussions  with Leeds MIND who currently facilitate the Peer Support Hub for the city. Details of the meeting were disseminated through Women’s Lives Leeds networks and through the Peer Support Hub membership.

Twelve people responded and booked places and on the day six women attended. A handful of other women have contacted Women’s Lives Leeds to have discussions too.

A broad discussion was held around gender specific approach but the concerns seemed to keep becoming broader than just gender.

The issues people wanted to discuss were:

  • Defining peer support  – the complexities of this as it is broadly used describe a multitude of different activities and conversely the issues that arise if it is too prescriptive.

  • “Peer Support” gaining traction within services and through commissioners. Can a  Peer Support be an outcome based commissioned service when reacting and developing according to need?

  • Commissioning peer support v peer support emerging from a service user identified need

  • Risk of clients in a peer support setting (with specific reference to Domestic Violence)

  • Should Peer Support be facilitated?

  • The ethics of delivering peer support – whether it is the right thing for the clients or whether it is the “cheaper option” for organizations/commissioners working with shrinking budgets.

  • Benchmarking services/kitemarks/developing a standard for Peer Support in Leeds- Would it be “policed” or rather a value set to ascribe to?

It was interesting that all of these were discussed within a framework of the Women’s Sector but the overall feeling was that the concerns were not unique to women and that in order to address some of these things it would make more sense to be more involved in the network per se.

The feedback was therefore that at this stage a women’s sub group to the network would not be necessary however there was an energy and a passion around Peer Support that needed a space to develop.

Women’s Lives Leeds would very much like to be at the heart of this and will look to work together to deliver a Peer Support HUB meeting with MIND in September.

If you have any questions or anything to add about peer support for women in Leeds please contact jackie@leedswomensaid.org.uk


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