Everyone can be part of a peer initiative.
That’s part of the beauty of it.  Peer work can be initiated or supported by:

  • community members
  • service providers
  • and policy makers.

There are different types of activities that we could consider to be some kind of peer involvement.  These can vary from very professional, independent self-governing agencies that are completely run by peers, through initiatives that are  independent in their operations but who are supported by a service, to peers as members of advisory councils and those recruited for specific tasks.  Even small voluntary contributions and support from peers in a service (e.g. serving tea or contributing to a satisfaction survey or secondary needle exchange) can be considered basic peer involvement.



Community members

First and foremost peers can organise themselves by:

  • talking with other peers and discussing ways of getting organised
  • investigating any ‘outside’ support from an agency or a service
  • developing into some kind of group - an autonomous group WHO?/Self-organisations or an initiative that is linked with agency LINK WHO?/Integrated initiatives.  A group can also link with interest groups (including in other regions), including internet-based groups.




Service providers

Services can support service users or other members of the target community in getting themselves organised.  They can stimulate and facilitate peer initiatives in various ways, by:

  • facilitating discussion among peers, by, for instance, arranging a meeting, providing practical support.
  • initiating peer involvement and linking the peer work with their other activities
  • inviting peers to be members of client advisory boards
  • Initiating and supporting other user initiatives, such as discussion groups or service users’ unions.





Policymakers can enable and support peer involvement in their region.  Peer involvement ought to be a cornerstone of every sound policy:  it is ethically right and it can improve the quality of policies.


Policy makers can:

  • ask agencies to stimulate peer work in their services
  • require agencies to have community consultations in order to ensure accountability to the community that they serve.  An example of this comes from the USA, where the New York State Department requires a community advisory board before agencies are eligible for HIV funding. http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/harm_reduction/needles_syringes/syringe_exchange/docs/policies_and_procedures.pdf)
  • invite peer groups or similar initiatives in their consultations with civil society
  • stimulate peer work by allocating resources to (future) peer initiatives.


“An  important social paradigm that took place over the past two decades:  from a more patronizing public health model, based on health professionals, towards a more pluralistic and democratic model with civil society participation as the main element.  As a consequence, ‘self-help’ groups and patient groups entered the policy arena and public health professionals lost their status as ‘untouchables’.”

Katrin Schiffer, Correlation staff