Community of Excellence

The Community of Excellence is a collation of people and organisations supporting and championing mental and physical health peer work and workers.

Find out more by reading the Peer Worker Communty of Excellence Report [pdf] 4MB

Aims of the Community of Excellence

  1. Create more visibility for peer workers and help organisations recognise their value, support wellbeing, and provide training, development, and opportunities for career progression.
  2. Support standardisation across boroughs and explore and learn from the different approaches in different boroughs where needed.

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About the Community of Excellence project

Laid out in our National plans and programmes for improvement and transformation is the need to integrate the Peer Workforce, Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations and the NHS infrastructure to improve our offer to support people's health in the UK.

Those involved in this project know that the peer workforce is growing rapidly. Peer working supports many national agendas within the NHS, including the Long-Term Plan and Mental Health Transformation Programme.

Peer workers offer a more personalised service for people using or transitioning from services by utilising experience gained from their own lived/living experience journeys. By supporting people at an individual level to have agency in their recovery journey, today's clients can often be empowered to become tomorrow's peer workers.

With more and more peer workers joining partnering organisations in North London and NHS Trusts, there are clearly different approaches to Peer Working roles, training and support offered. More needs to be done to bring the Peer Worker communities together and recognise the value of their recovery journeys and the experience this brings to the workforce by developing more inclusive national and regional plans and support programmes.

After presenting this 'call to action' to the Personalisation Oversight Board for the Integrated Care Board for North Central London, we held a series of early online consultations.

What's happing now?

In early 2024, we are co-producing a brand-new event in North London, showcasing the journey and expertise of peer workers within the area. The event will celebrate the value, work, and experience of peer working. This will be co-produced within the community, reflecting diverse voices and stories.

To ensure that diverse narratives are showcased, we will arrange for a series of co-produced workshops and, eventually, an opportunity to display the work from these meetings.

Looking ahead

Our proposed plan is to move forward with building a sustainable and impactful co-produced Community to change practice and culture. It will prioritise how best to develop and embed support for Peer Workers within the NHS culture including career development and progression.

This will draw on the evidence gained across the 2-year journey, while adhering to, and promoting the themes identified to support, develop and sustain Peer Working.

Paths forward include:

  • Agreement of outcomes and an implementation and evaluation plan for a pathway to impact.
  • Community Partnerships - Building and strengthening new and current collaborative partnerships that provide benefits to Peer Workers, the NHS, voluntary/third-sector and importantly those using recovery services.
  • Agreed allocation of resources and roles to build a sustainable Community by bringing together diverse knowledge, skills, experience and those with influence across different levels within the system.
  • A series of on and offline events to connect the Peer Workforce and networks.
  • Career and learning routes for Peer Workers and co-production of a governance infrastructure to register and perform as a Professional Body.

We’ve already captured a wealth of knowledge, action plans and ideas to translate how Peer Workers, and those who work closely with them, feel the Community could be co-produced and the difference it should make. We hope to continue this work and source and secure collaborative partnership funding to progress and sustain the Community of Excellence.

What's happened so far?

In 2023, the Community of Excellence facilitated a workshop with various stakeholders. This resulted in the ideas and essential values guiding the community of Excellence.

The following themes were identified, not only as necessary for peer workers but for the work that they do and for the relationships that they have.

These were:

  • Inclusion
  • Equality
  • Integrity
  • Helpful communication
  • Openness
  • Transparency
  • Awareness of environment

Ultimately, peers need to be empowered and boosted by their experience, challenging embedded ideas, showcasing new ways of working, and consistent education and professional development, which are fundamental.

The Community of Excellence, as an ongoing piece of work, needs to focus on making tangible changes within the peer working cycle.

Read the most recent Communty of Excellence Report [pdf] 4MB.

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