Health and social care organisations in the Black Country are working with voluntary sector councils to ensure peer and community support groups for people with health conditions get the support that they need.
Across the Black Country, there are hundreds of support groups offering help and advice to people living with health conditions. These groups are often set-up and run by local volunteers who have a lived experience of a health condition and who take the time to support others.
With the support of voluntary sector councils, local health and social care organisations will ensure existing or new groups get access to a wide range of training and resources, helping those that are giving and receiving support. Voluntary sector councils will also expand peer support across the Black Country and West Birmingham, encouraging local people to use their own experiences to help each other.
Rob Stokes a volunteer and facilitator of a local diabetes support group Type2Together, said: “Over the years that I have been managing my own health, I have benefited greatly from a little help from friends who share my experiences of living with diabetes. Living with this condition means I have many experiences to share with people who may be in the same position as me. I find the peer support group hugely rewarding and over the last few years I have seen the group grow into a truly supportive and empowering support network. This type of support is generally an area that is overlooked by health professionals but so many people can benefit from the support of those experiencing the same as them and I’m very pleased that health and social care organisations in the Black Country have recognised this need.”
Ian Darch, Chief Executive of Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council said: “The training and offer of on- going support is leading to a growth in the availability of peer support in the Black Country. The project, supported by local health and social care organisations, and delivered by the sub regions infrastructure organisations working closely together, recognises the huge value of the local voluntary sector and, as part of that, the need to continue to develop and support new groups of people coming together to support each other. This initiative has been really well received, with excellent feedback and a real enthusiasm among attendees to make a difference to the lives of the people that the groups support.”
Dr Helen Hibbs, Senior Responsible Officer for health and social care organisations in the Black Country and West Birmingham said: “We recognise the tremendous support provided to local people through community and peer support groups. We really are blessed with a thriving community and voluntary sector to support these groups and we wanted to play our part in offering additional support to help these groups to grow and for new groups to establish.”
Providing person-centred care and supporting people to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their own health and care, is a key ambition of the Long Term Plan for the NHS.
If you are interested in setting up a group to support people living with a health condition, or you are part of a group that may need a little support, please contact your local council for voluntary services.