Peer Support: Understanding Experiences of Peer Support in England


We led an insight-based approach to our Listen and Learn innovation method, engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to better understand approaches and variation in the implementation of peer support across England.

This built on previous work undertaken in partnership with Nesta and NHS England focussed on generating evidence, detailing best practice, and practical considerations. For example: Realising the Value, and guidance under the Integrated Personal Commissioning programme.

However, the adoption of, and access to peer support still varies – geographically across England. It is more readily available for some groups than others, and commissioning and referral practice can be very variable. It is also recognised that the COVID-19 Crisis has required different ways of working, with a shift to digital delivery of services. Therefore, this is an opportunity to understand the impact to peer support and the needs of people during the transition from recovery and restoration into the ‘new normal’.

As such we conducted 21 interviews, with a diverse range of people from voluntary sector providers, to commissioners, to people with lived experience, public health and social prescribing link workers. This aimed to explore and understand the enablers and barriers to implementation, as well as the need to sustain and spread peer support. This also considered the role of NHS England in shaping support to commissioners and providers.

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