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Peer Power report published 31 May 2012

Peer Power is the latest publication from The Centre for Welfare Reform. It describes the inspirational work of the Personalisation Forum Group, people who have mental health problems, but who have come together to help each other and to improve their home town of Doncaster.

The report shows how the group has quickly generated over £0.25 million worth of mutual support, saving lives, avoiding crises and reducing people's stay in hospital. The group has also provided free support back into their local community, from planting out the local nature park to providing training on how to overcome mental illness.

The group have benefited from the expert facilitation of Kelly Hicks, named Adult Social Worker of the Year 2011 and they have also won a Great British Care Award for their work.

Despite all this it is still a struggle to get the right support from local statutory agencies. Doncaster Metropolitan Council and the local NHS services are not used to working as equals with the people who use their services. In particular the group have been advocating for some important changes in how local systems work, including greater flexibility and more control over the support they receive.

The report's author Simon Duffy wrote:

"Working with the Personalisation Forum Group has been very exciting. Many statutory system write people off because of their own labels: mental illness, depression, schizophrenia etc. They see only needs - not gifts. But when you meet the Personalisation Forum Group you meet people of real talent, who work together to solve problems and to challenge the broken systems that so often let them down."

The report can be downloaded from here.

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