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We have been chatting with Mark, one of our Peer Support Workers.

Mark recently joined Mental Health Concern as part of our new community mental health initiative in Newcastle. To deliver this initiative, which aims to improve access to mental health support for local people, we created 28 new jobs, including 21 peer support roles for people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

As a Peer Support Worker, Mark will be using his lived experiences to help support other people.

Mark explains:

‘It was the lived experience element, as well as the organisation’s values, that got me excited about the role. The support we can offer to people as Peer Support Workers will make sure no one falls through the gaps in the system. We’re like pillow buffers, making sure no one slips through the cracks and helping people stay on their path.

‘At the moment, we’re building asset sheets, which is basically a huge directory of different resources and community support networks, so what ever someone needs support with we’ll be able to help them find it. We’re getting out and about in the community to find these resources that people might not normally come across. For example, we recently found a gardening group for people who have dementia, which we wouldn’t have found unless we were out looking in the community.

‘As this is such a new project, we’ve been able to really shape the role and make it our own, which has been really exciting. If you’ve got an idea, you don’t be afraid to bring it forward! I’m very creative and good at thinking outside of the box, so am enjoying being able to come up with new ideas.

‘I had previously been out of work for a long while, so am also really enjoying being part of a team again, especially a team that has such an active shared voice.

‘I’m really proud to be in this role and feel supported with my future.’

Mark actually found the role through Moving On Tyne & Wear, an employability programme that we are really proud to lead.

Moving On Tyne & Wear supports people who have a health barrier, disability, additional learning need, or autism to get into employment, training, or volunteering.

Moving On Tyne & Wear supports people like Mark, who have been out of work for a while, to achieve their full potential.

Mark explains:

‘I contacted Moving On Tyne & Wear off my own back and was linked up with a navigator who pointed out the job to me. I had never even heard of Peer Support Workers before they showed me the role.

‘My navigator was incredible. Within 2 weeks of joining the programme they spotted my potential and guided me through the application process, which helped me get an interview. Then, just before Christmas, I found out that I’d got the job!’

After hearing that Mark had been successful, one of the Moving On Tyne & Wear team who also runs a charity called Suitability provided Mark with some smart outdoor wear that is perfect for going meetings and getting out in the community. Suitability provides free suits and work wear for job interviews, to help people feel confident.

We’re looking forward to seeing how Mark and our other Peer Support Workers shape their roles and use their lived experiences to help people who might be struggling, by connecting them with networks in their local area so they can access the support they want and need.

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