Mind, in partnership with Bipolar UK and Depression Alliance, have secured funding from The Big Lottery for a two-year Peer Support Programme, which will gather evidence about the effectiveness of peer support and support its future sustainability. 

Leeds Mind has received funding within this programme to develop a Peer Support Hub within Leeds (PSH-L) – an exciting new network for Leeds-based organisations who are undertaking peer support activities, or who wish to become involved in doing so.

The Hub will provide opportunities for staff, volunteers and peer supporters from organisations/groups to share their experiences and examples of learning in delivering peer support.  Over the next 18 months we will:-

  • Map and develop a network of organisations/groups that offer peer support in Leeds
  • Coordinate three networking meetings
  • Deliver four workshops/consultation events in which organisations can share approaches and learn more about peer support.

On Friday 18th September, around 60 people joined us for our initial ‘PSH-L’ Networking Event at St George’s Centre in Leeds city centre. The day marked the first official meeting of the Hub since it’s launch this summer, and was the first opportunity for those interested in the the Hub to come together, network, begin to share ideas, and take part in workshop and discussion sessions facilitated by local organisations and projects.

The day was opened by Kathy Engler from Leeds Mind, and Elizabeth Ladimeji from national Mind, who both set the scene and explained the Mind and Big Lottery ‘Side by Side’ peer support programme as a whole, before 3 local peer supporters took to the stage to share their personal experiences of using peer support. Jenny Thornton, a local commissioner, shared information on the work of the new Mental Health Framework, also.

During the rest of the morning, a workshop on ‘What is online peer support?’ hosted by YooMee, MHealthHabitat, Mind and Leeds Mind, and a ‘Meet the Commissioners’ session both took place, with workshops on ‘Peer Support in the NHS’ (Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust), ‘Peer Support in BME communities’ (Leeds Mind and Touchstone) and ‘Principles and values of Peer Support’ (Leeds Mind) taking place in the afternoon.

There were plenty of opportunities for networking over the course of the day, with a particular slot for attendees to share resources and information with each other. At the end of the event, we facilitated a group discussion on what people would like from ‘PSH-L’ over the next 18 months. People offered the following points:

  • Database of Hub members’ contact details, current opportunities/services/ resources
  • Online platform for all participants to link in, share resources, support good practice
  • Regular reflective practice
  • Workshops on: how to create a fundable project; how to apply for, keep and maintain funding locally; how to manage and develop volunteers
  • Having options of different workshops made available, workshops repeated if possible, and information/slides from workshops made available to Hub members afterwards
  • Linking in with commissioners and policy makers and sharing information with them
  • Developing and sharing resources – such as feedback and evaluation tools to use
  • A space for new peer support work to be promoted and shared within the Hub
  • Opportunities to share training
  • Running an ‘introduction to Peer Support’ session for those new to peer support
  • Should we look to develop Peer Support Hub Leeds in the future and open it to peer support activities which are not mental health-related?

Starting to follow on from this, we have started to collate contact information from those Hub members who would like to share their details with others and begin networking. If you would like to be added to this list, please contact us (please see details below).

We are also planning our first PSH-L Workshop to take place in December 2015, open to all Hub members.

For further information on Peer Support Hub-Leeds, please contact Jude Taylor ( or Tayba Azim ( at Leeds Mind.