'Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.'

Background to the 2010 Impact Evaluation

In 2010 our original weekend service had been running for five years, and was beginning to develop a reputation not only as a unique weekend service, but also as a new and highly effective form of service user involvement. We had been talking about the project all over London for years and word had finally got around. We were beginning to wonder, can this be replicated? Was its success a fortunate lightning strike specific to time, place and people, or had we stumbled on a model that was adaptable enough to be recreated elsewhere?

In beginning to search for opportunities to launch another weekend service and find out, we kept running into the same comment over and over again.

'It all sounds very good, but what evidence have you got so show it works, that the results are worthwhile?'

This was problematic. After all, we were not engaged in therapeutic work and therefore did not report on NTDMS (National Treatment Data Management System) like other structured treatment providers, and therefore we were unable to evidence outcomes for either our volunteers or service users. Our evidence base was restricted to some very basic data regarding individuals, contacts, gender, ethnicity and so on.

We therefore boldly decided (and with no idea of what we were getting into) to conduct our own Impact Evaluation. We believe it was the first evidence to demonstrate that an independent peer-led service not only improved recovery outcomes for volunteers and service users, but that it created a safety net for the treatment naive or those for whom traditional structured treatment did not meet their needs. 

A special mention and big thank you should be made here to Annette Dale-Perera. We had met her in Kensington and Chelsea when she worked for Central  North West London NHS, and without her time, patience and support the following report would have been utterly beyond our capabilities at the time.

The Report