The S.H.A.R.E. Project is a Lewisham-based peer support project located within the Psychological Therapies Team at the Ladywell Unit, Lewisham Hospital.   The project’s aim is to develop a bank of trained volunteer speakers who visit inpatients, recovery groups and community events to share their own personal experiences of living with and recovering from, a long-term mental health problem.

Speakers are trained over a period of 10 weeks to create and structure their own story and to feel confident speaking in public.  The training course covers issues such as sharing personal information, confidentiality and setting personal boundaries.

Sharing personal experiences does not mean telling people your whole life story or disclosing information that is uncomfortable.  Sharing as a peer supporter is about choosing and sharing those things that have kept you going in the difficult times and helped you enjoy the good times.  These things could be your own personal strengths and attitudes to life or they could be experiences of support from other people or interests and passions that make you feel good.

You do not have to be completely ‘well’ or fully recovered.   We are all ‘works in progress!’

By becoming a volunteer you will be developing new skills and confidence in a supportive environment.   The SHARE Speaker training course is designed to help you identify your positive qualities, coping strategies and skills and to develop your own personal history into a story that you can share with others in public settings.  This should be an enjoyable and empowering process in itself.    Your time and commitment will be recognised with a completion certificate and, once your start volunteering you will be supported in your role through regular 1:1 supervision.

All travel expenses are paid and refreshments are often provided at engagements.

In addition to sharing your personal story, there will also be opportunities to volunteer for the S.H.A.R.E. Project in other ways, such as offering assistance with developing the project, administration or steering the direction of the project.

Criteria for volunteers

*        Experience of mental health problems.  This includes problems relating to substance misuse.

*        Motivated to encourage others who might be going through similar experience.

*        Willing to share experiences in mental health settings, including the Ladywell Unit at Lewisham Hospital.

*        Willing to go through the volunteer application process.  This includes an application form, providing two references and undertaking a DBS check.

*        Willing to undertake the S.H.A.R.E. training programme.

What happens after the training programme?

The project is publicised across mental health and other voluntary services in Lewisham.  Organisations are able to book a S.H.A.R.E. project speaker to come and talk at their drop-ins, events, recovery groups and other places.   Each volunteer is offered a debrief session after each speaking engagement and regular 1:1 supervision.

Once a month the project will hold a session at the Ladywell Unit for in-patients. 

Flyer here: SHARE Project Poster 2014MH


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