Women Side by Side: Evaluation of a women’s peer support programme

What is this research?

This is an evaluation of a women’s peer support programme run by the mental health charity Mind and Agenda – the Alliance for Women and Girls at Risk. The programme aims to increase the provision of gender-responsive mental health peer support for women experiencing, and at risk of developing, mental health problems. The programme will have a particular focus on supporting women experiencing multiple disadvantage. This could include but is not limited to homelessness, drug and alcohol misuse, abuse and violence, and contact with the criminal justice system. The programme will fund gender-specific peer support initiatives in England and Wales, delivered primarily through the women’s sector. It will share learning around effective gender-informed peer support with the wider mental health and community sector.

Why is this research important?

This research will increase our understanding of the effects peer support can have on the mental health and wellbeing of women experiencing multiple disadvantage. This is particularly important as many support services tackling these disadvantages, for example homelessness and substance abuse services, do not address women’s needs sufficiently because they rarely use gender-responsive approaches. The research will also establish how the mental health and women’s sectors can work in partnership effectively, and how this can increase the capacity of grassroots organisations.

How is McPin involved in this research?    

The McPin Foundation is working with St George’s, University of London, to explore partnership working between organisations in the mental health and women’s sectors. This will involve looking at values underpinning gender-responsive peer support as well as individual wellbeing outcomes of women engaging in peer support. As part of this, we will employ five women with experience of mental health difficulties and multiple disadvantage as regional researchers to support data collection and analysis.

What is the current status of the project?

We have begun data collection on partnership working by observing a series of meetings in the run up to the launch of the peer support initiatives. Data collection of wellbeing outcomes and values underpinning women’s peer support is scheduled to begin in March 2019.

Who do I contact for more information?

For more information about the project, or to speak to a researcher, please contact Andreja Mesaric by email: