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Peer Power

Author: Simon Duffy

This report explores the inspirational work of the Personalisation Forum Group. It suggests we have only just begun to see the powerful impact of peer support on existing welfare systems and that statutory bodies will need to radically revise their current commissioning practices if they are going to make the most of what peer support offers.

The Personalisation Forum Group (PFG) is a dynamic User-Led Organisation (ULO) which has developed quickly since its beginnings in 2010.

At the heart of the group’s effectiveness is passion and self-belief - fostered by mutual support and respect. 

As lone individuals with mental illness it is easy to feel isolated and dependent on the judgement of professionals. 

As a member of a peer support group it is much easier to see your own strengths and to feel positive change is really possible.

The catalyst for the development of the PFG was the on-going difficulty faced by many people with mental health problems to access flexible budgets that can be used to organise positive support. The group feels that, with the right support, they could achieve faster rates of recovery, stay well, and use hospital services less frequently. However, the institutional nature of mental health services, has been hard to change. Self-determination and personalisation are rarely achieved.

However the group have turned their anger at the poor standards within the current system into a force for positive change. In particular they have created a system of mutual support called Support Buddies - a flexible system for making sure members of the group can get support from each other - building on their experiential expertise.

The group’s success has been underpinned by careful and thoughtful facilitation by an independent social worker and by the development of a robust system of governance. 

Key outcomes already achieved include:

  • 13,104 hours of practical support, per year, with an approximate value of £250,000
  • Support for a wide range of community initiatives and partnerships
  • Publication of several films and two important papers
  • Savings for statutory partners from reduced rates of hospitalisation 
  • Some acceptance of the need for change in the local mental health services

The group’s success is also reflected in the national awards they have won: Great British Care Award 2011 (Putting People First) and Adult Social Worker of the Year 2011 for their facilitator.

The group is positive and ambitious - not just for itself but also for the whole system. It has produced a comprehensive model for Personalised Mental Health that puts community-based solutions and peer support at the heart of the system. It continues to work to reform and improve local and national systems.

Despite all of this local statutory organisations have struggled to welcome and support the group’s work. This is surprising and shocking. Despite their power and money, local statutory organisations have failed to respond positively to a local organisation that has much to offer.

In order to stay well and productive the group must continue to maintain its positive and supportive focus. However the difficulties experienced in getting respect and support from statutory services raise serious issues about the current organisation of mental health services in England, and the current systems for working with peer support and other community groups.

Read and download the free pdf in your browser here.

NB. The group have changed their name now to People Focused Group (PFG Doncaster).

Find out more about PFG Doncaster at:https://peoplefocused.org.uk


The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Peer Power © Simon Duffy 2012.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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Kelly Hicks

Kelly Hicks

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Vinny Cowling

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Library

Architecture for Personalisation

Architecture for Personalisation

A report describing progress in Yorkshire & Humber towards developing a community-based approach to supporting personalisation and self-directed support.

Community Brokerage

Community Brokerage

The best support assumes and supports capacity and only provides more professionalised expertise where necessary.

Evaluation of SDS Pilot in Stockport

Evaluation of SDS Pilot in Stockport

The University of Chester's evaluation of self-directed support for people with mental health problems in Stockport.

Mental health, resilience and inequalities

Mental health, resilience & inequalities

In this WHO report Dr Lynne Friedli explores the wealth of evidence that mental health influences a very wide range of outcomes for individuals and communities.

Personalisation in Mental Health

Personalisation in Mental Health

A report setting out a model for integrating health and social care for people with mental health services - designed to promote personalisation, empowerment and citizenship.

Health Efficiencies

Health Efficiencies

This report describes the efficiencies possible in healthcare through the use of personalisation.

Peer Support

Peer Support

How to promote peer support as an element of community brokerage and the new script for social work.

Support Buddies - Peer Support Works

Support Buddies - Peer Support Works

The Personalisation Forum Group, winners of the Great British Care Awards People First Category, have published an account of their simple but powerful system of buddying.

Women at the Centre

Women at the Centre

Simon Duffy and Clare Hyde explain how WomenCentre achieves its astonishing outcomes and explore the difficulties faced by innovative organisations in the welfare system.

Manifesto of the Personalisation Forum Group

Manifesto for Personalisation

This manifesto sets out the values, goals and intentions of the Personalisation Forum Group - a group of people who live in Doncaster and who suffer from poor mental health.

Community Sourcing and Social Care

Community Sourcing and Social Care

This new report by Chris Yapp and Chris Howells offers an alternative to privatisation and the hollowing out of local government.

Whose Community Is It Anyway?

Whose Community Is It Anyway?

Written by Simon Duffy this paper suggests it's time to re-think commissioning and work with communities in a real partnership of equals.

Doctor knows best?

Doctor knows best?

This policy paper from the University of Birmingham's Health Services Management Centre examines the use of evidence in implementing self-directed support in health care.