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Project information

Community Support for those in need

We’ll set up one new peer support group for people severely affected by mental illness. Our support groups improve mental health and wellbeing, increase skills and training opportunities, and reduce social isolation. Peer support from others with similar experiences can be vital in challenging times

March 2018 - March 2019

Charity information: Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness logo
  • Need


    Social isolation is a problem for those who either have lived experience of mental illness, or care for someone who does.
    Community care is still an area where resources are stretched and people can slip through the cracks – ending back in crisis care, or worse, if nothing is done to support them.
    And on the carer side, 13% of the 7 million unpaid carers across the UK care for someone with mental illness. Carers are twice as likely as the general population to develop a mental health problem.


    Our peer support groups around the country benefit both these sets of people.
    Philippa tells us: “It felt incredibly positive to be part of a group. Being with them made a huge difference – these were people like me. I could share my concerns and my frustrations, and they’d understand straight away.” Our support groups tailor their activities to the specific needs of their group – some examples are art, gardening, reading, group discussions, and physical activities like yoga.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Set up a support group where there is need, embed it in the community using key local relationships


    » • We provide resources, regional support officer, training in subjects like safeguarding, group facilitation, and navigating the mental health system
    » • The group will be self-sufficient after its first year and find funding for its own room rent and other costs, with continued support from us.

    What success will look like

    To have set up one new support group next year, with volunteer coordinator in place and to have begun its sustainability planning for year 2.

  • Impact


    Group members will feel less isolated and be less likely to need crisis care or other NHS and local authority support.
    We will measure the difference our project makes by surveying group coordinators annually on attendance, activities, and local insights; by monitoring training numbers; and by collecting direct feedback from group members:
    eg “It’s given me confidence. I don’t think it’s a coincidence when I say it’s kept me out of hospital - I haven’t been admitted for 2 years now.”


    One risk is that we find a suitable group coordinator but that they do not stay, or cannot sustain the group. We’ve dealt with this by putting in place a robust process for advising and recruiting coordinators from the outset, training them once in place, and providing resources, a support group toolkit, terms of reference, a setup grant, regional staff and regular checks and support.


    Our e-newsletter is every 6 weeks. By post/email our supporter magazine (including specific updates on this project) is twice a year. They’d additionally receive a follow-up mailing, updating them on this project and progress with the wider support group network, once a year.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £8,407

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £5,226 Staff support Regional staff salaries, travel, meetings
      £216 Materials flyers and posters and printed copies of factsheets
      £600 Setup grant membership, room rent and any other equipment they need, depending on their preferred activities
      £240 Volunteer expenses eg DBS checks
      £564 Training Courses and associated books and journals
      £1,161 Central overheads such as IT, HR, Finance
      £400 5% contingency
  • Background


    The location of this new support group is not set – we do have locations in mind but our strategy is to:
    1. use our recent research to target new locations where we identify a gap in community support;
    2. focus on audiences with the greatest need, for example by making our support groups more attractive to people from BME communities where there are many people severely affected by mental illness who do not currently access support in their local community.


    Our peer support groups help people cope with the effects of social isolation and prejudice they experience, in their local community - be they people with lived experience of mental illness, or their carers. This way they have a safe place to share their experiences, learn from each other and support their continued recovery. 75% of carers say it is hard to maintain relationships and social networks. In Yorkshire and the north east 62% of our group attendees are over 55 years old.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have run peer support groups for over 40 years. All our work is governed by people who have lived experience of mental illness and covers every county in England, giving us local insight and helping us spread innovations nationally.
    We will use our network to establish groups and support members to grow their reach. Our network includes the provision of 200 mental health services across England; national charity members, volunteers and campaigners; and the national campaign Time to Change.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Eileen Murphy

    Eileen leads our strategy to improve participation, peer support and our network of support groups nationally, and we couldn’t do this without her.

    Trina Whittaker

    Trina runs two groups in Braintree, andvembodies passion and dedication to the cause - recently being awarded a BEM in the New Year’s Honours list

    Chris Lynch

    Chris, Chester group coordinator, was instrumental in securing the Pizza Hut partnership and co-wrote policies on working with vulnerable people