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Pride in our peer research

Fulfilling Lives Newcastle & Gateshead has recently worked with a team of peer researchers to evaluate the Together in a Crisis (TiaC) programme. TiaC is a proof of concept led by Mental Health Concern which aims to provide a supportive recovery process for people with an urgent but non-clinical mental health need. One of our peer researchers, Sheila, shared an earlier blog about how she got involved with our research team; here she reflects on the end of the project and the varied impacts her involvement in peer research had.

I ended my last blog as we were about to start our fieldwork. I didn’t end up interviewing any of the TiaC service users for the research, but this was actually really useful as my reading of the data we gathered as a group was a little more distanced, so I could help my peers to identify bias when we were coding the data and identifying emerging themes!  In my last blog, I was also waiting for the results of my GCSE English oral exam, where I gave a talk about peer research. I’m pleased to say that I passed!

We coded the data as a group and the emerging themes were updated on a PowerPoint slide in real time. This helped us to see how the themes fitted together and were changing as we went along.  I learned that I could see patterns in the data and have the ability to see meanings that could be inferred from the results we were seeing.  We got together over a number of weeks to code the data as a group, some of us had telephone contact in that time and others of us came back to the group with our own interpretations. I think we finally reached a point where we were finding reading the data a bit tedious; we’d reached ‘saturation’ – a research term that means we weren’t drawing out any more themes from the data, it was time to start writing up our findings.

 Seeing my name on the front of the report, I was made up. I thought “I did that!”  I’ve shown it to my network of friends and family and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved as a group.

For the final report, we each wrote a piece independently to be contributed. It was challenging weaving quotes into the report as some were quite lengthy, but we wanted to make the most of the rich data we had collected.  I could relate to the data because of my own lived experience of mental health; though my experiences are different I could draw on these to help make sense of the data.

Taking part in the project was a fantastic thing to get involved in.  What I really valued was being able to take a step back when necessary, so we could collect our thoughts. There was no pressure and we could do as much or as little as we felt we wanted to commit to and could come back after a short break to pick up where we left off.  As a group we’ve grown a lot, and in my view we’ve all grown as individuals too. I think we’ve all had our own benefits from taking part, growing in confidence.

Seeing my name on the front of the report, I was made up. I thought “I did that!”  I’ve shown it to my network of friends and family and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved as a group.  I had a copy reprinted and bound at college so that I can keep the original bound version in a safe place at home as it’s a real achievement.

Peer research has ensured the voices of people accessing the service have been heard and have been influential.  I can’t wait to see what we peer researchers can get involved with next.

We met recently for an end of project get together. Endings was an important theme in the research so we wanted a positive ending to mark the close of the project.

We’ve just heard the great news that Together in a Crisis has funding until end December 2018 and going forward the TiaC model will be used to inform Delivering Together, the next stage of the redesign of specialist mental health services in Newcastle and Gateshead.  Peer research has ensured the voices of people accessing the service have been heard and have been influential.  I can’t wait to see what we peer researchers can get involved with next.

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