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Lorraine, one of our brilliant Peer Support Workers, explains how her experiences will help her to support other people. As part of our new community mental health initiative in Newcastle we created 28 new jobs, including 21 peer support roles for people with lived experience of mental ill-health – Lorraine was one of those successful candidates!

Lorraine first came across the opportunity thanks to Moving On Tyne & Wear, our amazing employability programme that supports people with a health barrier, disability, additional learning need, or autism to get into employment, training, or volunteering.

We’re so proud to lead Moving On Tyne & Wear, which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund and works with people like Lorraine to achieve their career goals.

Lorraine explains:

‘I owe Moving On Tyne & Wear a debt of gratitude.

‘I had found myself unemployed, for first time in my working life. I didn’t have a job or an income, which was a new set of circumstances for me. My local Job Centre put me in touch with Moving On Tyne & Wear, and the team flagged this Peer Support Worker opportunity.

‘This got me back into my community. For a long time, Covid had been a good excuse to not go anywhere, and I was hiding away.

‘I had a lot of money worries being unemployed, and although I was able to put on a front for my family, I was struggling to cope. I lost myself for a while.

‘Things started to look up when I reached out to my GP, who was fantastic, and I was able to access talking therapy. At the same time, I opened up to my family, who were able to help me with my money worries. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted and I was started to feel like my old self again.

‘Moving On Tyne & Wear helped me, not only by finding the peer support role and supporting me with my application, but also through the other activities they run. I was encouraged to go along to a local litter-pick, which really buoyed my spirits. I didn’t feel like going and was thinking of excuses, but the team really encouraged me and helped me see the positive reasons why I should go. I’m so glad I went, talking to the other people there really gave me a boost.’

Lorraine explains that her experiences of circumstances like these, and the support that helped her, will make her a fantastic Peer Support Worker:

‘Knowing how much of a difference that litter-pick made has shown me the difference that putting a positive spin on things and helping people get back into their community can make.

‘I’ve always been a people person, but my empathy dial has really been turned up. I’m good at speaking with people and making them feel comfortable, I have good listening skills that I think will be beneficial in this role. I think I can tell when someone says that they’re okay but really, they’re not – because I’ve been there too.

‘I’d like to be able to give people the right level of support. As peer supporters, we can fill in the gaps in the community and link people up with the groups and activities that they want and need.’

As a Peer Support Worker, Lorraine will be using her lived experience to help people by connecting them with support networks in their local area. We’re sure that Lorraine’s empathy and understanding of how people might be feeling will make her an invaluable part of her team.

Moving On Tyne & Wear is joint-funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and The European Social Fund, as part of the Building Better Opportunities programme.

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