Big Lottery Fund is awarded for research to support self help groups in the UK

Published: 24 May 2010 at 12:34

Three year project will promote good practice in support of self help

The Big Lottery Fund has announced a grant of £248, 866 to support a joint research project to be conducted by Self Help Nottingham and the Universities of Anglia Ruskin and Nottingham designed to improve the support available for self help groups in the UK. 

Self help groups are run for and by peers who are facing a similar social or health related condition. There is now considerable evidence that peer-led self help groups offer an effective means for improving health and social care outcomes for people.  

The three year project entitled ‘Developing effective support for community based self help groups’ has just started.  It is designed to produce evidence based guidelines that would be widely available to health and social care practitioners so that they can provide the best support for local self help groups.

The project will be managed by the Director of Self Help Nottingham, Sarah Collis, with research carried out under the supervision of Professor Carol Munn-Giddings at Anglia Ruskin University and Professor Mark Avis at the University of Nottingham.

Speaking on behalf of the Faculty of Health & Social Care at Anglia Ruskin University, Professor Munn-Giddings said:

"The team at Anglia Ruskin University is delighted and  excited to have been awarded this grant which recognises the importance that self help groups make to people's social well-being and the role that community practitioners have to play in supporting their development."

Melanie Boyce from Anglia Ruskin University and Sarah Chaudhary from The University of Nottingham will be researchers for the project.

The project is a qualitative participatory action research study conducted in four stages developed with self help group members. 

Stage one will describe the characteristics of self help groups and identify key issues for their development and maintenance. Stage two will involve in-depth case studies with selected self help groups and professionals in order to identify the development needs of self help group members and the professionals who are in contact with them. Stage three will develop an evidence based good practice resource pack for professionals working with self help groups. Stage four will be devoted to dissemination and communication with health and social care practitioners and experts nationally. The main output, the evidence based guidelines, will be available via Self Help Nottingham.

Self help group members in the UK will benefit from the availability of appropriate guidance on building resilience in self help groups, community based practitioners in the voluntary and public sector will have access to resources to work with self help groups, and health and social care commissioners will have the research evidence to include appropriate support for self help in their plans.

Vera Todorov, chair of Trustees of Self Help Nottingham, said:

"Very many people benefit from involvement in self help groups, and yet the contribution that self help activity makes to social well-being is often not well understood by health and social care professionals. I welcome this opportunity to bring together self help members and community practitioners to promote good practice in support of self help."