Co-designing peer support

We are delighted to share our latest report, Co-designing peer support at Future Pathways. Created in collaboration with Voices for a Better Future, Iriss and Scottish Recovery Network, this report shares what we have learned from our recent co-design project.  

In 2023, Future Pathways undertook a project to look at how we might develop peer support. We took a collaborative approach, working alongside people with lived experience who have accessed support from Future Pathways, as well as partners with expertise in co-design and peer support.

At Future Pathways, one of our strategic objectives is to support people to improve their own lives and achieve their personal goals. Through this co-design project, we aimed to explore the peer support and engagement opportunities sought by people who access Future Pathways and identify what these opportunities could look like. This would then give us a strong starting point to develop, explore and test ideas in future. 

The project was underpinned by the principles of trauma-informed practice, and we took an appreciative approach which valued individual insights and group contributions. From this foundation, participants took part in a range of activities which uncovered key areas for potential development.  

Through the project, we learned that people we support seek opportunities for people with lived experience to learn together, share interests, support each other, influence wider positive change and advocate for themselves and for others. Running throughout these ideas was the importance of creating the space and time to listen and be heard, promote hope and understanding, and generate connection, community and a sense of purpose.  

In many ways, the collaborative approach of the co-design group mirrored the very support that people identified as being needed. For example, this project involved creating and taking part in opportunities to share perspective and knowledge, create connection and influence change.  

We thank all those who took part in the project. Participants were deeply motivated to contribute meaningfully to developments that would benefit people with lived experience of abuse and neglect. By listening to the voices of people with lived experience and those of our partners and staff, we are all given the opportunity to learn, reflect and improve. We will take time to reflect on what has been shared and what we have learned, and look at how we can use this as the foundation for future activity.  

This report has provided a strong starting point for Future Pathways. We recognise that interests and needs are diverse, and we will test options in order to build on what works for people registered with us. We will encourage community and inclusion, and aim to reach as many people as we can through any new activity 

Collaboration is key: we will continue to work together in co-creating projects that meet the needs of people registered with us, and share what we are learning along the way.  

A group of people standing together facing the camera.

Above: Members of the co-design group at their last meeting in Dundee, 2024

“We were very motivated to take part in this project, because we believe that developing peer support at Future Pathways will make a big difference to people accessing the service. Through this project, we shared our ideas and got to know each other better. We are looking forward to continuing to work together to make sure the needs of people accessing Future Pathways are met.”

– Voices for a Better Future

It was a real inspiration to work with such motivated colleagues, from both Voices for a Better Future and our partners. We learned a lot about what people felt would be most important in introducing peer support. This year’s plan was a direct result of this co-design process which included people registered with Future Pathways, staff, the Scottish Recovery Network and led by Iriss. It is hugely exciting to start work in this area and even more exciting to do so in ongoing partnership with Voices for a Better Future.’’

– Flora Henderson, Manager, In Care Survivors Alliance 

‘Scottish Recovery Network values this opportunity to work with Future Pathways, Voices for a Better Future and Iriss to explore peer support and how it can be developed in Future Pathways. This collaboration meant that we could share our lived and learned experiences and bring a range of perspectives together to look at things in new ways. It may have been the start of a longer process but it has been one full of learning and potential.’

Louise Christie, Director, Scottish Recovery Network  

‘This project shows the importance of people having an active role in their own recovery and working alongside others connected by similar experiences. It was an inspirational experience to work with the Voices group who expressed a strong desire to make a difference to future generations. We are delighted that our partners Future Pathways and Scottish Recovery Network, are taking forward ideas from the co-design work and are passionate and committed to peer support for those accessing Future Pathways.’

– Ellen Daly and Kerry Musselbrook, Development Leads, Iriss

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