”Avita kaveria – Help a buddy” is a national project governed by Citizen Forum and funded by RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association). The aim of the project is to increase peer support activity by a substantial amount.
In 2012 Citizen Forum conducted a survey on the peer support development needs of organisations and groups nationwide. Those who took part in the survey indicated that they require support especially to organize training and supervision for volunteer peer group facilitators. Additionally they also wished for more support in marketing peer support opportunities both locally and regionally.
Help a buddy was established to provide organizations with this support. Those who enter the partnership will get new volunteer peer group facilitators and increase peer to peer activity whilst also improving the quality of peer support provision. The project strengthens and widens existing regional partnerships and networks. During the three-year project regional and local organizations will jointly establish peer group facilitator training, supervision, and peer support marketing in over 20 locations across the country.
1.1 Basic training: for trainers of peer group facilitators. The project organizes basic training for peer group facilitator trainers at 7 central locations across the country. The training is part of training tutors. The idea is for all those who’ve completed the training course to start up and run (alone, with a co-trainer or a group) volunteer mentor training in the own locality. These new volunteer peer group facilitators will establish new peer support activity over the 3 year course of the project in over 20 locations. The process will create a model for regional volunteer peer mentor training. Additionally, on a national level the model will be developed into a product organizations can modify to suit their specific needs. This product is available to organizations free of charge.
1.2. Further training: Peer support activity management
The project will develop a working model (“tried and tested” info pack) to support the management of volunteer peer mentors. A working group comprised of partnership organizations, peers and volunteer training and management professionals are developing the models for peer support facilitation and training. The peer support facilitation pack will be free for all partnership organizations to use.
2. Joint marketing and publicity
The project offers local organizations support in the joint marketing of peer support and raising awareness of peer to peer activity. Joint marketing will be tailored to suit the specific needs of each region and their organizations.
A regional network of partners will be formed to plan and develop the marketing strategy. Local educational institutions or other public sector partners may be asked to join the network. The goal of marketing is to spark and increase interest in volunteer and peer to peer activity whilst helping the organisations to recruit new volunteers.
In addition, the project will raise national awareness of the importance and meaning of peer to peer activity for individuals and communities alike.
3. Awareness campaign
A national awareness raising campaign called ’Help a buddy – peer support matters’ will be rolled out. The goal of this campaign is to increase public awareness of voluntary peer to peer activity. At the same time the campaign will generate discussion on the meaning and importance of peer to peer activity.