Our blog this month is from Emily Clayton, Lead Peer Support Worker and ENRICH Coordinator, talking about a brilliant new service and research project we have launched in partnership with Bradford District Foundation Care Trust.

What is ENRICH?

The ENRICH research project aims to enhance service user’s experience of discharge from inpatient to community mental health care. It is part of a national programme of research and we are the first site to pilot this work in the North of England. It is also the first global research into peer support which uses randomised control sampling. This is important because it has the potential to influence best practice guidance.

Why are you so passionate about this new service?

I have my own experiences of inpatient admissions at Lynfield Mount hospital when I was 17 and 18. I was having a very difficult time and tried to end my life on several occasions.  I continued to have difficulties for several years and received support from various community teams.   There was no peer support available at that time and I feel that I would have really benefitted at that stage from being able to speak to and spend some time with people who had their own lived experiences and found their own ways of managing. I went on to study a degree in ‘Counselling and Psychology in Community Settings’ at Bradford College and then started working as a peer support worker at Haven at the Cellar Trust in 2016.  I really wanted to be able to use my own experiences of distress to support others and am now very proud to be one of the team leaders at Haven where we continue to offer peer support to people who are in crisis.

Why is peer support key and how will it work as part of ENRICH?

Being discharged from hospital can be a daunting experience for people for many reasons and can leave you feeling very isolated and alone.  The ENRICH peer support workers will work alongside people for 4 months following discharge from hospital.  The building of safe, trusting relationships based on shared lived experience is integral to peer support and we have seen through our work at Haven just how powerful this can be.  The ENRICH workers will spend time with people once a week for a period of 4 months, going to groups, for walks etc. in the local community.  I know from my own experience it can be very daunting going to a group for the first time.  Or if you’re struggling to get outside for a walk, having someone to meet you at your gate who you know understands and isn’t judging, someone to make that step alongside you can make all the difference.

For more information contact emily.clayton@thecellartrust.org