PeerTalk's vision is to establish a UK wide network of volunteer facilitated peer support group meetings for people who experience depression and to offer support to their families.
In addition to establishing peer support group meetings, PeerTalk aims to inform and equip individuals and communities to make a positive response to mental health issues.
It is often the case that people who experience mental health issues also face difficulties in wider society through discrimination, intolerance and injustice. PeerTalk will seek to inform and equip communities to be confident in supporting people through such issues and enabling the communities to challenge the stigma associated with depression and poor mental health. We do this through promoting a positive narrative around mental health through social media and roadshows.
We believe that everyone has the right to be HEARD and to access appropriate support so that they might know full health and wholeness, enabling them to flourish.
Hope: Inspired by hope, we believe that by working together all might flourish, and enjoy full health and wholeness.
Empathy: An empathic approach is central to our way of working.
Acceptance: We accept people where they are, without judgement.
Respect: Arising from the dignity of every individual, we offer respect to all.
Dignity: We believe in the intrinsic value and dignity of all people.
The PeerTalk story
PeerTalk began as a project in 2014 in response to a recognised need of community support for people living with depression, anxiety and related conditions. This initial project was funded through the generosity of many individuals and a significant grant from The Methodist Church. The three aims of the project were:
To establish a national network of volunteer facilitated peer support groups for people living with depression. The groups modelled on groups run by the Irish charity Aware.
To challenge stigmatising attitudes surrounding mental health
To establish the project as a sustainable charity
PeerTalk became a registered charity in October 2016 and the first support groups were established in Bradford and Preston in March 2017.
The PeerTalk story could not be told without reference to Stephen and Philippa Normanton, Rosa Trelfa, Liz Whitfield and Roy Hillman who, supported by many others, have shaped PeerTalk into the organisationally strong and clinically credible charity it is today.
To date PeerTalk has trained 195 volunteers and now hosts 12 support groups in Whitley Bay, Gateshead, Settle, Skipton, Bradford, Batley, (Yorkshire), Preston (daytime), Preston (evening), University of Central Lancashire (18 - 30 on campus), Warrington, Guildford (Surrey) and Bordon (East Hampshire). The PeerTalk vision is to host 100 groups within ten years.
Along with further support from the Methodist Church we have been very grateful for substantial grants from The Tudor Trust and The Allen Lane Foundation. Other charitable trusts, listed elsewhere on the website, have also contributed to our work. The generosity of individual supporters of PeerTalk is overwhelming.
Evaluation of our work is currently being undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University which will be complete during 2020. The testimony of those attending the PeerTalk groups already shows evidence of how valuable the groups are in providing much needed support prior to, and following, access to clinical therapies. We are pleased to enjoy the informal recognition of the benefit of our groups from the NHS mental health teams (IAPT) in the areas where we are located.
PeerTalk is very grateful to all the volunteers and individuals who continue to support the charity as well as to Aware who have been most gracious with their assistance and encouragement.