Action Learning and Peer Support Groups

Setting up and running an effective action learning or peer support group

Action learning and Peer Support groups are highly effective ways to tackle and address business issues and drive success. They are about getting support from people, who are equal to you – your peers, to help identify and agree effective development action

When peers do things together they run their group or event together and no one person is ‘in charge’. Everyone takes responsibility, talking things through and making decisions together. In a peer group you are able to talk to other people who truly have first-hand experience of similar situations. Our training course is designed to aid the setting up of and sustaining an effective action learning or peer working group.

Starting a group involves thinking about the kinds of support that people need and how you can address them. Doing so requires attention to the needs and strengths of your organisation, the target population you aim to serve, the peer supporters and what they need to provide support, and ideas about what peer support would look like in your setting.

Approaches to action learning and peer support vary considerably across the country, from all volunteer peer support mentors, to qualified non-professional mentors, to professional mentors that work in group sessions, one-on-one meetings or a mixture of both.

However, although each support group network may be unique, there are common characteristics of successful initiatives, as well as similar challenges and potential resolutions, all of which are covered in this training course. Specifically, the course looks at the things to consider when starting up and running an action learning or peer support group.

These include:-

  • Who is the group for, what do you want to do and why?
  • What will the size of the group be?
  • Will it be an open or closed group?
  • Will this change with time?
  • Will there be a time limit to the group – when will it end? –
  • Will you use a closed/private group on social media to keep in contact? –
  • What ‘agreement’ or ‘ground rules’ will group members come up with and commit to?
  • Where will you meet, are there any access issues? – What support do you have personally or if wanted professional/resources…

For Whom
This course on action learning and peer support is aimed at those with little or no existing experience in organising and managing such groups and meetings. It suitable for representatives from all sectors and levels.

Aims and Objectives
Participants attending this course will:-

  • Define the various definitions and frameworks for modern peer support groups
  • Benchmark common characteristics of successful peer support groups
  • Look at how to carry out a needs analysis for a peer support group in order to set it up and keep it going
  • Examine logistics for meetings and venues
  • Consider the various roles, rights and responsibilities of every peer support group member
  • Determine essential protocols for any peer support group meeting
  • Review conventional and new ways of securing publicity and visibility for the peer support group (if appropriate)
  • Focus on keeping momentum going

This one-day workshop has four modules that link the above objectives together:-

1. Peer Support and Action Learning Groups

  • Options and definitions
  • Telephone and online support
  • Characteristics of a support Group
  • Support group benefits
  • Some recommended aims/objectives of a Group

2. Getting Started

  • Needs based assessment
  • Is there a need for a support Group?
  • New Groups versus Re-forming Existing Groups
  • Gathering local support
  • Planning a Meeting
  • Meeting venue considerations
  • Meetings and timetabling considerations

3. Running a Group

  • Evaluation
  • Confidentiality and Disclosure issues
  • Tips on handling difficult members and conflict in the group
  • Meetings – Conduct and Records
  • How to facilitate a Peer Support or Action Learning Group
  • Group leaders/facilitators – key qualities and skills
  • Group Member’s Roles and Responsibilities
  • Recommended Guidelines

4.Keeping the Group Going

  • Tips on Keeping a Support Group Going
  • Promoting the Support Group
  • Attract and use referrals
  • Posters, flyers and press releases
  • Paid advertising
  • Letters to the editor
  • Community service announcements
  • Closing the Group