'Your Space': online and physical spaces for peer-led informal advice and support

Following an equality mini-conference (blog on this here), a group of young people in Fife have started a conversation around creating an informal peer-led mental advice resource which would be both physical and online.

The main idea is to join up the concept of one-stop-shops and safes spaces; young people taking part collate and crowdsource information from word of mouth and  flyers and contacts about services, comprising formal mental health services and informal/positive mental health and wellbeing resources. This is in order to avoid the stigma attached with accessing formal mental support within schools.

The information collated is then used in several formats as required - e.g. booklet, online info pack,  web portal; each of those packs are collated in order to be immediately relevant to a specific geographic area, i.e. the closest or most accessible 'Your Space'.

The physical 'Your Space's can be set up in schools, clubs, pop-ups etc; they would be run only by young people who would offer peer support. To be recognisable the spaces would use a simple logo and attendance would not require any formal referral system.

The main consideration for young people wanting to host a 'Your space' session is to think about how to be inclusive and accessible to everyone. Current suggestions for connecting to harder to reach groups include using buddy systems to reach out to the more isolated young people and making links with buddies in positive health and wellbeing programmes (e.g. in our current format - Active Schools Fife, activities such as Awareness Walks)

Why the contribution is important

This idea is imporant as it extends the concept of 'Safe Spaces' (which has mainly focussed in the UK to LGBT / anti-homophobia and transphobia) to a wider group of young people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

The core issue that was discussed at the equality conference was that of access and stigma, i.e. that certain groups of young people are unlikely to use formal mental health service within school settings due to links with guidance teachers. By contrast, young people are more likely to be aware of who within their peer groups are growing more and more isolated and disconnected and therefore act as a buddies to have the confidence to use the peer-led 'Your Space'. 

While 'safes spaces' have received criticism in educational/tertiary setting as being limiting to political free speech, the concept discussed here by young people at the conference was to have a space solely sharing information while treating other with respect and dignity irrespective of backgrounds.

by Elric_FCE on December 14, 2018 at 03:33PM

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