My journey to becoming a Peer Leader
By Rory, on 14 February 2021
Amy Herring, part of the Personalised Care Group at NHS England and Improvement talks about the Peer Leadership Development Programme and her journey to becoming a peer leader.
The journey to becoming a Peer Leader rarely starts with someone waking up one morning thinking that they want to become a Peer Leader. The process is gradual, but some people eventually decide they want to strategically use their lived experience at either local, regional or national levels to influence and shape policy or health and care services – we recognise this can feel daunting knowing where to start as a Peer Leader. However, for a few years we have been successfully running the Peer Leadership Academy supporting the personal development of individuals who want to become Peer Leaders, supporting individuals to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to work strategically with the health and care system. Recently we expanded the Academy so more individuals with lived experience had the opportunity to become Peer Leaders; which is why we ambitiously launched the Peer Leadership Development Programme (PLDP) in October 2020.
What is the programme all about?
I myself attended the Peer Leadership Academy during Autumn 2018. Prior to this I had worked with various aspects of the health and care system to create change using my lived experience, but I was not confident in my knowledge about personalised care. Contrastingly there was people on the course who had lots of knowledge and experience of personalised care, but had not been involved in strategically working with the health system.
We all came with different levels of knowledge, confidence, skills and experiences of interacting with the health and care system. But the fact that the Peer Leadership Academy was a personal development programme as opposed to a training programme meant we were individually invested in to personally grow in areas where we needed to focus on to become Peer Leaders. We were all on the start of the same learning and development journey, despite coming from different positions.
Not only was I able to personally develop by learning new things, I was also able to broaden my learning through listening to the personal lived experience stories of other people, which was one of the highlights of attending. It gave an incredible insight into other aspects of the health and care system that I had not experienced myself; and from listening to the experiences of other people, it led to me then discovering new ways of how I could apply different skills to create change and achieve positive outcomes.
Having gone through the personal development journey at the Academy has enabled me to not only build upon my knowledge and skills, but also allowed me to learn about myself and increase my confidence. Using what I learnt at the Academy, I then joined the National Strategic Coproduction Group at NHS England & Improvement to further use my lived experience to create strategic change at a national level – which is something I would not have done otherwise.
How can you find out more?
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Peer Leadership Development Programme and what the course entails, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org