Peer Support

Edinburgh Carers Council now offers a peer support service for carers of people with mental health difficulties.

Peer support would often happen naturally between carers during our collective advocacy groups and social events. By creating a peer support service, it allows the support to continue outside of these events in a safe and supervised way. Our volunteer peer support workers are all carers or former carers themselves and have undergone training from Health in Mind to build their peer work skills. 

What is peer support?

Peer support is the sharing of experiences between two (or more) people in a safe environment. Peer support volunteers will not lecture you, give advice, or judge you. It is a mutual relationship where they are there to listen to you and draw from their own similar experiences to help provide emotional and practical support. It aims to help both those giving and receiving the support. Each experience is treated as equally important, which gives it a different dynamic to more traditional settings of support such as carers groups or counselling. Caring for someone with mental illness is often a lonely and isolating experience. With a peer support volunteer, you don’t have to keep repeating your story to a different person each time. A relationship can be formed with one person who can understand what you’re going through.

Peer support can help you to:

  • talk about your experiences and work through what you are feeling
  • learn coping strategies from someone who has been through similar difficult circumstances
  • understand your loved one’s diagnosis
  • learn about what other services are available to support you
  • increase self-esteem and confidence
  • feel reassured that you are not alone

What you can expect from the Edinburgh Carers Council Peer Support Service

A trained peer support volunteer will meet with you one-to-one (or phone you, or video chat with you) on a regular basis and help give you tips to manage your own mental health and wellbeing. They may also be able to provide information about relevant services that may be helpful to you.

You can self-refer to our Peer Support Service, or ask someone to do so on your behalf. The first meeting or telephone call with your peer support volunteer will be arranged by Edinburgh Carers Council. We will ask you which days/times would suit you best and where you would be most comfortable to meet the volunteer. Meetings are usually held in a café or another public space; they can also be arranged in a room at Edinburgh Carers Council’s office building. Meetings are usually about an hour long. **

** Covid-19 Update: Until further notice we are currently only providing telephone support. We can also arrange an online video chat if you prefer. In the case of telephone or video chat support, ECC will arrange a date and time for the peer work volunteer to call you. The phone call will last about an hour.

Keep yourself safe by being aware of how you are feeling. Sometimes if you are not feeling well, hearing other people’s experiences can be difficult. If you need to take a break from the peer support meeting or leave early, that’s completely fine. You can share as much or as little as you feel comfortable. If you are unsure of how to begin to speak about your experiences, you can focus on how you are feeling instead.

In addition to the peer support, you will also have the opportunity to use Edinburgh Carers Council’s Individual Advocacy Service if there is a specific issue that you need help resolving in regards to your caring situation.

You will also be more than welcome to join our Carers Forums, or any of our support groups. ** It will be an opportunity for you to meet others with relatives or friends in similar circumstances.

** Covid-19 Update: We are currently only hosting online Carers Forums through the video conferencing platform Zoom. We also have a Facebook Online Peer Support Group. For more information, please email rachael@edinburghcarerscouncil.co.uk

To refer yourself or someone else to our Peer Support Service, or to be added onto our Carers Forum mailing list, please email: rachael@edinburghcarerscouncil.co.uk

You can also telephone our main office line on 0131 322 8480. Please leave a message if no one is in the office and we’ll get back to you.

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

GDPR replaced the Data Protection Act (1998) and came into force in May 2018. In order to help you we need to maintain a record of your personal information, such as name, address and contact details. Our Peer Volunteers are expected to abide by all principles and policies of Edinburgh Carers Council at all times.

If you would like to read our full Data Protection Policy, please visit this link:
https://www.edinburghcarerscouncil.co.uk/data-protection-policy

Confidentiality

ECC recognizes the importance of confidentiality to staff, volunteers and carers using the service and is committed to providing a safe and confidential environment to the users of this service and its staff. We maintain professional relationships with our clients. Personal information between you and the peer volunteer will remain confidential within Edinburgh Carers Council, unless in exceptional circumstances where there is a serious threat to the life and safety of you or others. A copy of the ECC Confidentiality Policy is available on request by emailing rachael@edinburghcarerscouncil.co.uk

Becoming a peer support volunteer for ECC

Are you a carer or former carer who would like to become a peer support volunteer? If so we would love to have you on our team.

Our peer work volunteers are trained by Health in Mind through the Peer Collaborative. The training consists of a 1-day per week, 5-week course. All of our peer volunteers are also disclosure checked and have received their PVGs from Disclosure Scotland.

If you are interested in becoming a peer volunteer, or have any questions about the peer support service in general, please feel free to get in touch with us by contacting Rachael at 0131 322 8480, or emailing rachael@edinburghcarerscouncil.co.uk.

The Peer Collaborative

Edinburgh Carers Council is a member of The Peer Collaborative, a network of support for peer workers in Edinburgh. The Peer Collaborative organises learning and development events, and keeps people up to date with current peer support services throughout Edinburgh. They also create awareness around peer support.

To find out more, visit: https://edspace.org.uk/peer-collaborative/

You can subscribe to the Peer Collaborative newsletter or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Side by Side: The Power of Peer Support

The Peer Collaborative has made a short 15-minute film about peer work in Edinburgh. You can watch the film below:

Shorter videos of some of the individual participants of the film are also available to watch.
Here is the video about one of our fantastic peer support volunteers, Alexis.

You can view all of the individual videos on Health in Mind’s Youtube Channel.

If you would like to refer someone to our peer support service or would just like to talk about peer support in general, please get in touch with Rachael by emailing rachael@edinburghcarerscouncil.co.uk or phoning our office on 0131 322 8480.