Peer support can be described as: mutual emotional and practical support between people who share a common experience. It’s a relationship of equality and mutuality that is beneficial to those providing and receiving support.
In 2022, Ruhama developed a peer support mentoring programme. We participated in the process of codeveloping a peer support training programme in collaboration with Ruhama service users and our partners at Habitus Collective. Over 100 service users were invited to attend workshops that resulted in the production of 12 sessions of a bespoke peer support training programme.
International evidence shows that peer support programmes work by offering people who have experienced a similar journey, support, encouragement, and hope. Guided by the values of mutuality, empowerment, hope, experience, authenticity, and responsibility. Peer support can also help to increase social connection and create a sense of belonging for people experiencing isolation and disconnection.
Service users in Ruhama have unique life experience, people impacted by the sex trade, by sex trafficking, prostitution/escorting and sexual exploitation. Therefore, our peer support programme caters for a hugely diverse group of people and responds to their individual needs. In the summer of 2022, we celebrated 10 Peer Supporters completing the first of its kind, peer support training programme that
they themselves were involved in producing.
The peer support group is only a part of what the service provides: building community capital, and co development of the programme for the future with service users is important element and we are excited to see the development of the service as it grows.