Project information

Peer Support Groups

Peer support involves people sharing their experiences to help each other. Disabled people can meet regularly for discussion eg. their knowledge of accessing community facilities and services and what has/ has not worked. Peer support can boost emotional health, wellbeing and sense of belonging.

May 2018 - April 2019

Charity information: Breakthrough U.k. Ltd

Breakthrough U.k. Ltd logo
  • Need


    Social and physical isolation can cause loneliness which presents significant health risks. Information, environment, transport, employment and access barriers increase disabled people's risk. Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty so we work in deprived areas. As disabled people are a dispersed community of identity, peer support is unlikely to form naturally within geographic neighbourhoods. For some participants, peer group is their only social interaction in a week.


    Existing groups in Manchester are impairment specific, and mainly for mental health issues. There are some online peer support forums but 31% of disabled adults have never used the internet (Digital Inclusion Strategy). There is a clear gap in provision for an accessible, regular, face to face peer support group welcoming people with any impairment, from deprived Manchester areas. Peer support is vital for disabled people to make full use of information on all aspects of independent living.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Participants report increased confidence, motivation and aspirations.


    » Participants realise how common many barriers to independence are and meet new people and gain positive role models who are disabled people.
    » Participants can train to volunteer to facilitate the group, based on mutual respect; everyone's experiences are treated as equally important.
    » Travel training will involve participants in discussion and route planning to increase understanding of using public transport independently.

    What success will look like

    Participants will complete a snapshot of how they feel on entering each session and at the end when leaving the group. Case studies will include quotes about confidence.

    Aim 2

    Participants increase their awareness of rights and understanding of the Social Model of Disability


    » Participants are empowered to take responsibility and advocate for their rights independence and wellbeing, eg. reporting hate crime.
    » Volunteer facilitators will be trained on the Social Model of Disability to identify and remove barriers that disabled people face in society.
    » Sessions will end using the Social Model of Disability to ensure that participants are left feeling optimistic and thinking about independence

    What success will look like

    Participants will evaluate the Social Model of Disability training and share their learning with others each meeting and outside the group

    Aim 3

    Participants report increased awareness of services/information and reduced isolation.


    » Participants who face barriers to making friends, have a chance for socialising and a platform for new friendships
    » Participants discuss community inclusion and integration and facilities to increase their sense of belonging and community connection

    What success will look like

    Participants will organise activities to attend together and data recorded on individuals who start hobbies (eg improved health). Case studies will review services and be shared.

    Aim 4

    Participants gain a sense of ownership, choice and control


    » Participants lead and organise the group autonomously, deciding on the venue, time, session format and content

    What success will look like

    Participants will train as volunteer facilitators, and promote the group, proactively deciding on the venue, format and timing of meetings and weekly discussions and activities.

    Aim 5

    Participants report improved communication and interaction skills


    » Participants set a different weekly group discussion topic as an opportunity to listen and share experiences and information with each other
    » The group set an agreement covering confidentiality, respect, and appropriate information to share for a safe environment, including updates and news
    » Participants are able to express and assert themselves, and have support with any communication barriers

    What success will look like

    Communication barriers will be addressed and discussions facilitated. Contributions and interactions will increase with engagement with the group, and case studies shared.

  • Impact


    Peer support groups will provide positive cost-effective opportunities for disabled people to make friends and socialise in a safe setting. Peer groups build self-esteem, self-belief, confidence and aspirations. The network will enable people to make a difference to their lives, expressing themselves, starting hobbies, travelling independently, and volunteering. The group will build participants resilience and wellbeing, promoting their integration in society and inclusion in their communities.


    Peer groups need willing participants. We engage disabled people and began delivering peer groups, attendance demonstrates the project's accessibility (we also cover travel and refreshment expenses) and shows ongoing demand. Another risk is inadequate return on investment but minimal resources are required due to volunteer involvement. The benefits of volunteering are explained and training provided to ensure the group is safe, effective and sustainable. Group facilitators sustain momentum.


    We will share photographs and case studies showing peer group activities, impacts and outcomes, sharing quotes regularly on social media, newsletters and our website. We will report on the number and location of peer groups and attendees as well as volunteer training. We will answer any questions.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £13,599

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,839 Staffing 0.2 Full time equivalent at day rate £131.52
      £2,600 Venues Accessible venue hire average £50 per week
      £2,330 Volunteers Travel expenses for volunteers (416 bus passes)
      £480 Communication £40 per month, eg. mobile phone contract
      £450 Volunteer training 3 x Active listening. Room hire (£50) + trainer fee (£100)
      £450 Volunteer training 3 x Safeguarding. Room hire (£50) + trainer fee (£100)
      £450 Volunteer training 3 x Social Model of Disability. Room hire (£50) + trainer fee (£100)

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Awards for all £9,989 Guaranteed
    Souter Charitable Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    Stafford Trust £3,130 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project is based in accessible venues across Greater Manchester, disabled people form local groups to meet in places they feel comfortable (eg. cafes with public transport links). Many disabled people we work with struggle to travel independently, leaving them physically isolated.


    A diverse group of disabled adults will benefit from peer support, they may face barriers to independent living and mainstream employment due to a lack of social and digital exclusion, communication skills, poverty, health issues and low aspirations, motivation and confidence. Disabled people often lack the quality and quantity of social contact to maintain quality of life and wellbeing. However we identify and build on people's strengths, interests and qualities, focusing on community assets.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    As a disabled people's organisation run by and for disabled people, we have direct lived experience of barriers to independent living and integration. We have a track record of offering peer support, running safe, successful accessible groups that people want to join and then volunteer at. We have trialled different ice-breakers, styles and structures and are flexible to meet participant's needs and offer a relaxed informal space. We have partners to promote the group to.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Peer Group Facilitator

    Tracey has been facilitating a group, recruiting members and supporting the initial organisation of meetings, making practical arrangements.

    Volunteer Facilitators

    Trained Facilitators welcome others to the group and help members come to agreement where decisions are required to ensure productive, safe meeting

“Meeting new people isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.”