Peer Support Workers

A Peer Support Worker (PSW) is a person who has ‘lived experience’ of a mental illness. They can offer an understanding through shared experiences, reflecting on their own recovery they attain a mutual respect and build a trusting relationship.

A PSW’s unique approach means they offer social, emotional or practical support and help service users in their wellbeing and recovery journey.

As they have a clear understanding of the anxieties and pressure someone can face whilst in recovery; a PSW is able to work within a multi disciplinary team and offer a different perspective to mental illness as well as giving the service user a more dynamic care plan.

We’re here to help...

We are a growing team working across the Trust. If you think you can benefit from a PSW please speak to your care coordinator who can advise you on how you can access our support.

“I wanted to be able to show people that however low you go down, there is a way back up... The thing I try to instil is, no matter where you are, if you want to get somewhere else you can, there’s always a route to get to where you want to be.”
Peer Support Worker

Peer Support Awareness Week

We held a number of activities around the Trust during Peer Support Awareness Week, 4-8 July 2016.

1 July

Art work

Peer Support Worker Tracy Gibbons at Maidstone Community Centre, Marsham Street at an art exhibition showcasing the art work of residents at 111 Tonbridge Road Rehabilitation Unit.

Service users from our Tonbridge Road unit and Rosebud Centre in Maidstone are showcasing their works of art at the Maidstone Community Centre in Maidstone for the next two weeks.

The exhibition, which is open to members of the public, recognises the vital work of our Peer Support Workers within the Trust.

This week, we are celebrating the work of our Peer Support Workers. A Peer Support Worker is a person who has ‘lived experience’ of a mental illness. They can offer an understanding through shared experiences, reflecting on their own recovery they attain a mutual respect and build a trusting relationship.

Peer Support Worker Tracy Gibbons works at Tonbridge Road; a mixed gender inpatient adult mental health rehabilitation unit situated in Maidstone. Tracy is just one of many Peer Support Workers who work alongside service users as part of their rehabilitation and recovery. Last week, Tracy helped set up the exhibition with service users from both units. 

Tracy said: “Art provides a welcomed distraction for service users; it helps them with their wellbeing and recovery journey. It helps them to relax and talk. They have taken pride in their work and are proud to showcase their achievements”.

4 July

Natalie Livesey at the The Beacon fun day

The Beacon hosted a wonderful Fun Day to celebrate Peer Support Week on Monday 4 July. Terry Pankhurst (Thanet CMHT OT Technical Assistant) was town crier for the day and opened the event, getting it off to a great start.

With the sun beating down on the Beacon courtyard, handmade bunting flickering in the breeze, the smell of incense sticks, and silk scarfs draped over the trees, staff and service users were able to explore various stalls, enjoy some refreshments and find out more about Peer Support Workers and the contribution.

Natalie Livesey, Peer Support Lead said: “It was heart-warming to see the impact in which the concept of employing people with lived experience has had on our service by talking to several service users.”

She continued: “The day was a real celebration of how far our workforce has come and how we have inspired the way forward for many. There were generous gifts donated along with tasty treats and refreshments, all of which really depicted one of Peer Supports core principles - mutual sharing.”

A massive thank you to organisers Julie Fuller, Will Cartwright and Richard Buxton.

5 July

Two patients joined Dartford MIND to talk about their personal experience of receiving Peer Support in a rehabilitation setting. 

Natalie Livesey, Peer Support Lead tells of her visit to North Kent MIND during Peer Support Week

“I attended North Kent MIND group at Methodist church to present ‘Peer Support’ along with Ruth Kember, Peer Support Worker (PSW) at New Haven Lodge, who previously attended this group before starting as a PSW for the Trust. She shared her personal journey of being part of the group to now fulfilling a career using her unique set of experience. She is also starting a degree in Occupational Therapy. Georgina Upton from Rosebud Centre Rehabilitation brought residents of the unit to the group. Georgina explained her role and invited two of the residents of Rosebud to come and talk about their experience of receiving support from a PSW.

“After we had all spoke the group had an opportunity to ask any questions. They were varied and we left them with the reassurance that mental health services are moving in a positive direction and there is a big culture change in large organisations such as KMPT.”

Rachel Weston spoke at Highlands House to explain why and how she created a Food Bank.

6 July

Live It Library filmed with Charlton Athletics to showcase the partnership work with Early Intervention Services and how it benefits patients. The video will be put on the Live It Library pages very soon!

Rivendell Team Day

Peer Support Worker Gill Ashington spoke to the team at Rivendell Rehabilitation about her personal journey and the benefits of Peer Support Workers for the patients, staff and for her.

Sonia Michaels, Rivendell Unit manager invited Gill Ashington, Rivendell Peer Support Worker and Natalie Livesey, Peer Support Lead, to give a presentation on peer support for the staff of Rivendell rehabilitation unit.

Gill gave a touching and truthful account of being unwell and described how she became a Peer Support Worker. She spoke of her emotional journey and then showed the team a film of herself speaking about the preconceptions and initial judgements made about her. She went on with much enthusiasm to talk about her achievements, triumphs and the kindness shown to her.

There was a reality and perspective gained by all in the room, and each person walked away thinking how a Peer Support Worker could help in their service.

Speaking after the presentation, Gill said: “For me it was an opportunity to explain to the team that as a peer support worker, I may have things that will affect me on a daily basis but those same issues or symptoms give me a greater understanding of what patients are going through. I also wanted to give my example of ‘hope’, and to remind the team we all have something of value to offer if we ‘see people as people’, it’s as simple as that. We all have empathy within us, be mindful about using it as each and every one of us can make a difference!”

7 July

Two patients joined Dartford MIND to talk about their personal experience of receiving Peer Support in a rehabilitation setting. 

Staff also joined in the fun as they played patients in a football match! Peer Support Worker Michael Bowley coordinated match!

Peer Support Worker Hannah Scott-Wilson also coordinated a number of activities during the week at Ash Eton. At the same time Hannah shared her personal story. She also shared cakes and fruit. We're very sorry we couldn't attend!