Marsh Award for Mental Health Peer Support: In Connection
These Awards are run in partnership with Mind and wider Peerfest partners and recognise excellence in peer led support for those experiencing mental health problems.
Peer support happens when people work together, or support each other, from their lived experience. It can take place informally and formally, in all sorts of settings such as in user led organisations, projects, support groups and in the workplace. It means different things to different people. It may also be called self help, befriending/wellbeing groups, meet ups, or mentoring. It also can take place online through digital means.
This Award recognises peer support groups that have worked in collaboration with other groups or that have forged important supportive connections within the community that their participants live in.
Nominations for the Award are judged by an independent panel of people with peer support expertise, others with lived experience, and representatives from Peerfest partner organisations.
TransSober, Cardiff New Muslim Club and House of Polish and European Community 2022
TransSober (Star Project)
TransSober is a community based support group made up of a committee of diverse backgrounds and ages, all with experience of substance or alcohol misuse. The experiences of the committee range from functioning with their addiction and continuing to work, to being made homeless by it but all are now sober and willing to share their experiences to help others on their recovery journey. The peer support groups are open to anyone in the transgender community who feels that they need support or have something they want to talk about. Trans Sober fills a gap in services for people in this community, allowing them to be assisted in their recovery by others who have gone through the same experiences as them. They work in partnership with other organisations to signpost their members to services and other groups that could help them even further on their journey to recovery. Peer support groups have recently been set up online which allows members to access support wherever they are, and helps to reduce the stigma around seeking support.
Cardiff New Muslim Club
Cardiff New Muslim Club was established in January 2021, however before this the group had volunteered at their local mosque, offering weekly classes and social activities for people who had recently converted to Islam. Volunteer mentors act as one-to-one points of contact, especially for the vulnerable, and the group have run a number of online events including Eid gatherings, quizzes and virtual coffee mornings, which are now being held in person. The volunteers, particularly the founding members, are themselves converts to Islam or people who have had close relatives become converts. Converting to Islam can be a lonely experience and the Club aims to help converts navigate this situation by matching them with mentors who can share lessons from their own journeys and running events where converts are able to meet like-minded people.
House of Polish and European Community (HOPEC)
HOPEC was born among Polish friends and families in North-East London who struggled with the lack of clear information, language and cultural barriers and the lack of opportunities for integration. Therefore, they set up this house of friends, where anyone can attend to access support and build bonds across the community. HOPEC takes ideas from the actual experiences of community members, and leaders collaborate with organisations and professionals in order to be able to signpost members to the support that they need. The group aims to be a problem solver, encouraging bonds within the community and trust between members and institutions. They are working to reduce the language and cultural barriers that immigrants face in the UK, while allowing them to preserve their national heritage as they integrate into society.