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Peer support team helps more people on our mental health inpatient wards

A successful peer support team is now helping more people who are being cared for on our mental health inpatient wards.

The Inpatient Peer Support Team launched in March last year and work alongside clinical staff at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) to support patients through their care and recovery.

All of the team have had experience of mental health challenges, and provide one-to-one and group support, help run activities, and work closely with staff to ensure patients’ individual needs are being met.

The team has grown from five peer support workers to 21, and there are more people currently going through training. All peer support workers receive specialist training, which is delivered as part of the Health Education England programme for increasing the use of peer support across mental health services.

The team started working with patients at the Linden Centre and Crystal Centre in Chelmsford.

In March this year they expanded to the Poplar Adolescent Unit in Rochford, and last month they also started working at The Lakes in Colchester and the Mental Health Unit in Basildon.

Peer support worker Ben Gray supports patients at The Lakes. He said: “People with mental health problems, like me, can feel excluded, stigmatised, abandoned and even terrified.

“I became a peer support worker to face my demons, including hearing voices.

“But more importantly, I became a peer support worker to help others in their recovery journey, make them feel more included, less stigmatised, happier, and assist in their discharge from hospital to live as normal a life as possible in the community.

“It has been very emotionally and personally rewarding. I have had very positive feedback from service users, including: ‘You’d make a good counsellor’, ‘Thank you for caring for us’, ‘You have given us hope’ and ‘Thank you for listening to me’.

“I would encourage people to apply to become a peer support worker, especially those who have worked in care and/or people with relevant lived experience, such as mental illness, to bring to the peer support role.”

Renee Conley, Inpatient Peer Support Team Lead, said: “I have always believed peer support to be a valuable service for patients on the wards, and now, having been on the wards as a peer support worker, I have witnessed the benefits first hand.

“I am so very proud to be part of this peer support team.

“We have had great support and leadership by Matthew Sisto, Director of Patient Experience and Participation, who has had realised a vision for inpatient peer support.

“I find great purpose in building relationships with patients, staff and our peer support team. “We are making a difference.”

Anyone who is interested in joining the Inpatient Peer Support Team can email

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