What is peer support?
Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. It is different from the specialist, tailored help you might receive from a GP, counsellor or therapist but can still be effective.
The aim of peer support is to:
- bring together people with shared experiences who can support each other
- provide a confidential space where you feel accepted and understood
- treat everyone's experiences as being equally important
- encourage both giving and receiving support.
With peer support, everyone's views and experiences are equally valued. No one is seen as being more of an expert than anyone else. It's not always about getting or giving advice. It is sometimes just about having a safe space to get things off our chest.
How peer support can help
Police peer supporters will have experience and knowledge of police work and culture, with lived experiences of dealing with a variety of life’s challenges. Lots of people find peer support improves their mental wellbeing and helps them cope. For example, it could:
- help you to open up about what you are feeling and experiencing
- introduce you to ideas and approaches that others have found helpful
- reassure you that you're not alone in how you are feeling
- help you to connect with others and give you a sense of belonging
- encourage you to value your strengths
- build your self-esteem and confidence
- help you to feel more hopeful about the future.
Is peer support right for me?
It’s completely normal to find it difficult to open up, and you may feel nervous about sharing your experiences with others. Peer support can often be a helpful first step. Remember, the process of peer support is about speaking to someone with shared experiences, so the person you’re speaking to probably feels (or has felt) the same way you do.
You are in control of a peer support session, and it is entirely up to you how much you share – but before seeking peer support, you might want to think about whether it’s right for you and what you want to get from it.
Things to think about:
- Peer support is a confidential process and is based on everyone being treated with fairness, respect and understanding.
- Peer support can be a two-way process so it’s important to think carefully about how you’re feeling. Could it be difficult to hear about other people’s experiences? While it can be helpful to hear how other people have coped, there might be times when it’s triggering or upsetting for you.
- Remember that you'll be hearing people's personal experiences and strategies, and, that what worked for them, may not be right for you.
- How much support you give and receive can vary depending on what feels right for you at different times.
- Although many people find peer support helpful, not everyone does – and that’s ok!
- Some people find peer support useful at some times and not others. If you try it and it hasn't helped, that’s not your fault, it's important not to blame yourself.
- If it's not the right thing for you now, you will still be able to access it in the future if you want to.
How peer support links in with ESTIP
Peer support is the foundation on which our emergency services trauma intervention programme (ESTIP) is based. Trained peer supporters are eligible to undertake our ESTIP training courses.
Seeking peer support
If you are interested in seeking peer support, contact your force wellbeing team who will be able to point you in the right direction – you’ll often find peer supporter or wellbeing team details on your intranet.
If your force doesn’t currently have a peer support team, they can contact us and talk to someone about creating a peer support network in force.
Our peer support model
Our peer support model is based on comprehensive international research from Canada, Australia and America and was developed with 14 Home Office forces from England and Wales who worked with us on its design.
It is a robust and evidence-based peer support model and is now available to forces in the form of train the trainer workshops, materials, tools and guidance to help them implement the model locally.
All police forces are eligible to become a national police wellbeing service (NPWS) peer support force, provided they adhere to the recruitment and selection criteria of the agreed model, together with the implementation of specified training as a minimum.
To enable the model to function effectively each force needs to provide a dedicated peer support coordinator (or equivalent) and to ensure that all peer supporters are afforded the correct level of support whether that be clinical or supervision.
We provide a wellbeing coordinators course which is detailed below and the expectation is that the people who attend the training and receive the implementation pack will deliver the peer support model in their force with support from the NPWS team.
Our peer support training
We offer training to individuals who want to be peer supporters and to peer support coordinators.
The peer support training programme will provide a force with everything they need to implement a peer support network including:
- recruitment and selection process material
- training materials to deliver a two-day peer supporter training course
- a business case document for peer support and supporting presentation
- internal communication messages and promotional material.
This service aims to improve the quality and consistency of peer support nationally specifically to improve the wellbeing of staff.
A trained and supported peer support network will build on services already available through current occupational health and wellbeing initiatives.
New peer support training
Peer support coordinators course
Our peer support coordinators course will give you an understanding of how to set up, implement, recruit peer support within your organisation and how to keep it energised. It is a one day course delivered on MS Teams.
Peer support refresher course
Our peer support refresher course is designed to enhance your knowledge of peer support which will also help you build on your self-care and resilience skills. This training aims to refresh and enhance the skills of existing peer supporters and teach them how to implement self-care plans to assist colleagues they are supporting. This is a half day course delivered on MS Teams.
Peer supporter member page
Once you have become an Oscar Kilo peer supporter, we will give you access to our peer supporter member page.
How to access the member page
- You will need to create an Oscar Kilo account using the login area at the top right of this website.
- Login to your Oscar Kilo account and use the button below to access the the member page. (You need to login first or you will see an access denied message.)