Peer Support

Peer support for people with similar life experiences (e.g. people with mental health and substance misuse issues, homelessness etc) has proven extremely important in helping others through difficult situations / periods in their life. People who have experienced similar situations can better relate and therefore offer more authentic empathy and support. This can be in the form of practical advice and suggestions for strategies that Key Workers may not offer or even know about. Earlier this year Chris Truckle from the BwD Adult Learning Team ran a Peer Support Course for the SIFL at Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre. Some really positive stuff came out about the SIFL and their experiences playing in the League and what difference they thought it made to people.


Comments included:

• It provides a release

• It’s therapeutic

• It puts everyone on an equal level no matter what your background

• You are improving skills (in football and socially) which builds your confidence

• The chance to socialise

• Being around people with similar interests feels good

• The chance to meet new people

• A sense of belonging to something

• Get exercise and improve physical fitness

• Able to forget about other things

• Feel part of something

• Block things out and get some respite

• Feel even better when you are winning

They also felt it almost felt like a festival, gave them a bit of a swagger when they won and a chance to stick their chest out and be proud.


This is what Peer Support meant to the players taking part:

• Helping people to improve their emotional, mental, physical and social wellbeing/fitness

• The support from one service user with that experience to another

• Listening to people

• Recognising the situation

• Being positive and encouraging people

• Helping people move in the right direction

• Asking people how they are

• Help people to change their lives and have an impact


The benefits they felt for people receiving peer support in SIFL or more widely were:

• That people don’t feel alone with their problems

• That they get some therapeutic guidance and help

• A chance to change/deal with problems they face

• A shared problem is halved

• Feel that there is hope

• The chance to work through things by talking to someone

• Get a better mentality or attitude

• Recognition of what they are going through


For the person giving peer support they felt:

• Improve their skills

• Feel good and like they have done something positive

• Help yourself to get better

• Be able to share opinions/thoughts

• Understand other people’s opinions

• Feel like they have role to play

• Further their own recovery

• Gain satisfaction in helping someone else

• Maybe prevent others from worsening


For the wider mental health system:

• Have an improved mental health system with the addition of peer support

• Compliment other clinical approaches

• Reduce pressure on the system

• Save money!

• Develop a better reputation/understanding of mental health

• Reduce stigma!

The Social Inclusion Football League was never just about the Football! It was about bringing people together, sharing resources and creating a wider support network for everyone. And challenging the stigma and discrimination we all face at one time or another. If you would like to know more about Peer Support and maybe help support others in the League please contact Paul on 01254 674301.