WHAT'S PEER SUPPORT?
Who can understand your fears, dreams or worries even better than you? Who can tell you the words you need to hear at the right time you need it? Who can leave you space just when you need to be on your own? Who can give you hope when you miss the way? In most of the cases the answer is “somebody that has lived/is living a situation similar to yours”. This is peer support.
The term peer support describes the process of mutual provision of knowledge, experience, emotional, social, practical help and emotional empowerment among people who bear the same status, e.g. among students of beneficiaries of a certain service. Peer support is distinct from other forms of social support in that the source of support is a peer, a person who is similar in fundamental ways to the recipient of the support; their relationship is one of equality, not in a superior or expert position.
This philosophy has been proven as an effective and innovative working style in the field of mental illness (e.g. the European project Peer to Peer shows that it is an effective model of recovery assistance that actively reduces the number of hospital admissions). People with a common illness are able to share knowledge and experiences to other people in the same situation. Sometimes, it is difficult for the mental health workers to put into the shoes of a person with mental problems, for a peer supporter it is something natural, so the combination of both expertise can be a really helpful way to be explored.
In Chic & Craft we created small groups of peer supporters (one in each pilot experience), with previous experience in designing or sewing or just with an special interest in the training course, so they could help the rest of their mates when implementing the fashion training course. These experiences have been really positive, they felt that they had something to give to their team mates, they felt empowered and valuable. For the rest of the group, the peer supporters were a reference person, a model, an inspiration and a strong motivating factor to continue with the fashion course.
Click in the following sections to know more about peer support and its implementation during the Chic & Craft fashion training course.