Peer work programmes are firmly grounded on values of equality. Peers share experiences, background, and recognise (parts of) a common identity.  Although each individual is different, with different personal characteristics, people in peer groups uniquely recognise their fellow peers, not as identical, but on equal basis. An equal relationship is key in peer work.

“Being accepted as a peer is a social process of identifying, and being identified, as part of a group, network, community or culture.  It is not a decision that can be made by others outside the process.”

Annie Madden, Jude Byrne, Nicky Bath in Who's peering at who? Junkmail, Vol. 4, AIVL.






Peers who are involved in a peer support project may possibly work in a hierarchical structure, may have different main personal or professional characteristics than some of their fellow peers, but their work is based on equal relationships and there is a commonality among them.  They have equal relations with their peers in the target group, equal relations with peer support colleagues and equal relations with professionals without experiential expertise.

The principle of equality in peer support highlights the significance of different alternatives to the traditional client-provider social worker model.  Peer support offers both professionals and peers a different health promotion approach and method, based on equality and mutual coaching.  It provides an opportunity to focus services/goals on the direct, current needs members of the community present with, thus meeting them where they are.