Marsh Awards for Mental Health Peer Support: Sustaining Ourselves

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 been working to build in sustainable policies and programmes to support both their team and participants with their mental health in the long term.

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.

Recovery Cymru Community and Phoenix Peer Support Group 2023

Recovery Cymru Community

Recovery Cymru Community is a peer-led, mutual-aid recovery community for people in, or seeking, recovery from substance use. They are open to all, 365 days a year, showing kindness, humanity, positivity, hope and inspiration to a group who are often judged and demoralised. They encourage members to embrace their creativity and skills, which can often be overlooked, so that they can be proud of themselves and what they are able to achieve. They are a bridge for people waiting for treatment, an assessment or a detox, and are able to provide support in the meantime. In recent years, they have made themselves more visible to communities that have not traditionally accessed support for substance misuse, recognising the growing need for services like theirs. Recovery Cymru Community began as an informal volunteer-led support group in 2008 before registering as a charity in 2011. They provide support both online and in person, making themselves accessible to all who need them, and run a comprehensive programme of activities which allows people to tailor-make their recovery programme.


Phoenix Peer Support Group

Phoenix was the first of a small network of three grassroots peer support groups for female survivors of sexual violence and is led by survivors. They support marginalised women who have experienced sexual trauma and have a diverse membership in respect of age, ethnicity and background. They were originally developed by survivors in 2020 during lockdown, and former members have now gone on to form and lead splinter groups to support even more people. Phoenix has created a safe, empowering space which promotes the visibility of these women and has ensured that their voices are being heard and their feeling of isolation is reduced. The women are able to explore their issues and share coping strategies which help them to move forward from their traumatic pasts. Phoenix is an online group, making them easily accessible, and has supported over 40 women since it was founded.

Previous Winners

Changes Bristol, Wellbeing Hub and Peer Support Team and Missing Peace and Wellbeing Support 

Changes Bristol (Star Project) 

Changes Bristol began in 2003 when people with lived experience came together to form a support network for those suffering mental distress. They now run a number of different peer support groups including a walking group, gardening groups and a befriending service. All group facilitators have struggled with their mental health and offer to share their lived experience which helps to build trust among participants. Changes provides a safe space for people to talk about their problems which helps them to feel less alone and encourages them to speak out and seek help. At the end of each session, members are encouraged to set a goal for the week which further encourages better habits and celebrating small achievements. 

Wellbeing Hub and Peer Support Team at Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind 

This team run a range of groups and activities which are open to all and inclusive of those from marginalised communities. There are 2 paid members of staff in the team and a number of volunteers, all who have lived experience of direct mental health issues. Volunteers support groups that are related to their experience and cover a range of ages and backgrounds, including some who have English as their second language. The groups have been set up to improve people’s wellbeing and reduce isolation, with the option of attending online still in place for those who wish not to attend in person. Some of the activities available are creative, which encourages members to share their experiences in a different way and to express their creativity. Staff and volunteers are encouraged to look after their own mental health while working in the groups, to ensure that they are looked after and that the service from the group is consistent. 

Missing Peace and Wellbeing Support 

Missing Peace was set up in 2017 when the founder noticed that there was a missing piece to the puzzle when it comes to therapeutic support in the UK. This service is for anyone who identifies as struggling with their mental health and there are a number of targeted groups running each week, including face to face support, single sex groups, groups for young people and groups for those with additional needs. All directors and volunteers at Missing Peace have their own lived experience of mental health. They also run a number of training sessions to encourage people to take control of their mental health. They work with a number of different organisations, signposting members to the support they need and working collaboratively to get funding.