Peer Support Workers

Our Peer Support Worker logo.


What is a Peer Support Worker (PSW)?

A Peer Support Worker is someone who has lived experience of their own health challenges and is at a point in their journey where they can use these experiences to support people (peers) who are at a different stage in their recovery/life journey.

A Peer Support Worker supports the peers they are working alongside to take (or take back) control of their lives, focusing on their strengths and inviting them to explore what a meaningful life looks like to them while managing their ongoing health challenges.

By using their own lived experience to support others, Peer Support Workers promote hope and role model that recovery* is not only real, but possible.

*It is important to note that not everyone will identify with the term 'recovery'. People will make sense of their experiences in their own ways. Please see 'What is recovery?' for more information. 


  • The Peer Support Development Team were highly recommended at the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards in October 2022!

    The Peer Support Development Team were highly recommended at the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards in October 2022!

  • From left to right: Chloe (Peer Support Worker), Dag (Senior Peer Support Worker), Emma Taylor (Peer Professional Lead), Leah Smith (Lived Experience and Peer Support Coordinator), and Sharon Gilfoyle (Associate Director of Inclusion) at the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards.

  • A poem about peer support work, written by one of our PSWs, Alan.

Becoming a Peer Support Worker within CPFT

What qualifications/training do I need to become a PSW?


Peer Support training

All our PSWs have received and completed specific training in Peer Support. This can be gained before being employed as a PSW or once you are successful in getting a PSW job in CPFT. All we ask is that you commit to completing Peer Support training within 6 months of starting your role. Once you start working in CPFT as a PSW, your training will be funded and provided for you by us.

The training we offer is called the Peer Education Programme (PEP), which is accredited Level 4 with the Open College Network (OCN). PEP consists of a 14-week programme of study, including 1 classroom day per week for that period. 

Our training programme equips people with the skills to work as Peer Support Workers within CPFT. It looks at:

  • How to use and share lived experience appropriately when working alongside peers
  • The recovery model of mental health and how PSWs champion this model when supporting their peers and more widely across the Trust
  • The key principles and values of Peer Support Work and how to implement, maintain, and embrace them within the PSW role and across the organisation
  • Peer Support communication skills - such as the use of recovery-focused, strengths-based language to reduce mental health stigma and promote inclusion and accessibility


Care Certificate

All new Healthcare Support Workers (including Peer Support Workers) Band 1 – 4 will be required to undertake the Care Certificate, unless they have recent previous care/support work experience and if they hold a Health and Social Care qualification gained within the last five years.  The Care Certificate is a key component of induction. It is based on 15 Standards, all of which need to be completed in full before being awarded the Certificate. 

The Care Certificate team aim to support staff to complete the Care Certificate within 16 weeks of their start date wherever possible.


Additional training at CPFT

Any new member of staff will receive statutory NHS training including, but not limited to, Basic Life Support, Fire Safety, Safeguarding Adults and Children, Conflict Resolution, and Mental Health Legislation.



Becoming a PSW FAQ [pdf] 419KB


What is recovery?

What is recovery?

There is no one definition of recovery, since it is a concept/experience that is unique to each person. For many people, recovery is a process of personal discovery which focuses on developing their health and wellbeing. It is often described as a journey rather than a destination, with ups, downs, bumps, and curves in the road. To reflect this, some people describe themselves as being in recovery rather than recovered. 

Recovery can be about rebuilding a life and identity beyond the experience of mental health challenges, embracing the whole person - including their physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social wellbeing.

Recovery is:

  • The journey/process of accessing tools and resources (within and outside ourselves) that support our health and wellbeing
  • Making changes in our lives that support our health and wellbeing
  • Finding meaning in or making sense of past experiences
  • Moving closer towards living a life that brings us meaning and purpose
  • Learning to live well with or without health challenges
  • Becoming an expert in our own self-care
  • Identifying and celebrating our strengths, interests, and hopes
  • Building on our sense of self / our identity
  • Taking control of our lives
  • Defining our own goals


How did peer support start within CPFT?

Developed in Arizona, USA by Recovery Innovations (now RI International) to provide individual and hospital-based peer support.
group image

In 2010 CPFT made a firm commitment to create a critical mass of peer support workers, working alongside Recovery Innovations to deliver our initial Peer Worker Training Programme. 

Since then, we have:

  • Delivered 14 cohorts of peer support training (called the Peer Education Programme, which has been accredited at Level 4 with the Open College Network (OCN))
  • Successfully graduated over 200 students from the training since 2010
  • Offered employment to more than 80 of these graduates
  • Been awarded “demonstration site” status with the Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change (ImROC) programme
  • Been awarded as "highly commended" service at the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards
  • Assisted many other organisations in their own peer support worker developments

What next for CPFT?

  • Continuing to deliver peer support training
  • Continuing to create peer support worker posts
  • Increasing openness and delivering structural changes within our organisation
  • Working collaboratively to deliver recovery and social inclusion within services
  • Networking with local services and wider organisations
  • Continuing to challenge mental health stigma
  • Continuing to champion the recovery ethos 
  • Continuing to work towards our vision - to have peer support workers in all services within CPFT

Our peer support workers

Our peer support workers

Image: A poem about peer support, written by one of our peer support workers, Alan.

The work of peer support workers

We are privileged to work alongside 44 peer support workers across the Trust who promote recovery values within and beyond their services. Some of the services our peer support workers are employed in include the Primary Care Mental Heath Service, Perinatal Mental Health Service, Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team, Ida Darwin ward, Adult Locality Teams, Staff Wellbeing Service, Recovery Coach Teams, Children and Young People's Mental Health, Older People Adult and Community services, and more. 

We have a short film on “The work of peer support workers” created by Henry Shepherd, peer support worker. The video is available on YouTube by clicking here.

RAND summary on the Peer Education Programme

RAND has published a two-page executive summary on CPFT's Peer Education Programme. To read the summary, see the link below.

Evaluation of the peer worker programme at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (

Peer support champions in Uganda

A short film has been published about mental health peer support in Uganda from those who provide it and receive it.  Mike Ilamyo was commissioned to create this film for the Butabika-East London Link and Heartsounds Uganda. You can view the film here.

As a patient

As a patient, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Patient Advice and Liaison service  Contact the Trust