.....but different

Starting peer works sounds easy (‘just talk with friends and colleagues’), but it is complex.  Peer work is based on mutual recognition of shared identity, or parts of identity, but even when people share the background they are not identical.   Recognition that a peer has been ‘living the life’, ‘having been on the same side of the fence’ is an important notion in the start of peer work.  However, just as one can be part of several communities, one can be a peer within different groups.

Recognition of the same interests or values does not automatically mean that others see you as a peer.  Being peer is more than being equal or the same, it is about mutual acceptance that you have an important issue in common. And it works both ways.

For further reading, the publication from the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League on peer work has a excellent part on the ‘acceptance’ of peers.  http://www.aivl.org.au/files/FrameworkforPeerEducation.pdf