Today we are pleased to see the publication of a practical and accessible guide we have co-developed alongside Russell Webster and a team of experts by experience for best supporting people with lived experience who use their lived experience in volunteering roles. The guide is aimed at people with lived experience, providers and commissioners and offers practical tips around what people with lived experience should expect from volunteering roles and what providers can do to deliver inclusive volunteering opportunities that consider the needs and experiences of people with lived experience and also support their development and progression.
The guide covers topics including recruitment, training, ongoing support, developing work skills, help finding paid work, providing financial help to support volunteering and control and choice, and also includes links to other helpful resources. In addition to being informed by a team of experts by experience, the guide has also been informed by 253 service user volunteers who took part in a survey around their experiences within the criminal justice, drug and alcohol, homelessness and multiple complex needs sectors.
The guide is accompanied by a website which will be updated regularly to reflect the latest news and research related to peer volunteering. The website also includes a platform for people with lived experience to search for opportunities, with providers advertising these opportunities making a commitment to abide by the best practice principles set out in the guide.
This best practice document aims to ensure that organisations provide good quality support to peer volunteers. Discussing the key topics from peer volunteers’ perspective, it offers a set of principles that will guide organisations in developing the most appropriate support structures.
Evidence shows that many people who volunteer as peer mentors benefit from the experience of giving back, building their self-esteem. However, there is also evidence that not all peer volunteers get the support they deserve or have a choice about their volunteer role.
Informed by the lived experience of more than 250 peer volunteers, this document recognises that peer volunteers in different organisations will have different support needs.