In our experience, peer support makes a positive difference.
What is peer support?
We have trained a team of peer supporters who have gained knowledge and experience of planning over the years (having been involved in their own planning issues or campaigns), to give informal advice and support to people who have less or no experience of planning.
They help people in different ways:
> Informally advising people who have come to us with specific enquiries (click here to go to our enquiry form).
> Helping put on events and information exchanges with their local community or neighbouring communities. These events could be on topical issues such as responding to a Local Development Plan consultation or developing a Local Place Plan or a more general workshop on Understanding the Planning System.
> Helping reach out to disadvantaged communities and putting on events and workshops to help them to get their voice heard and begin to have more influence over how their local areas are developed.
Why do we need peer support?
Our experience shows that people who are worried about the impacts of development on their communities and the environment, are required to devote huge amounts of time, money and energy (much of it emotional), into engaging with planning. Many are trying to engage in the land use planning system but failing and many find that decision making does not adequately involve communities.
Many we speak to express strong feelings of despair and isolation when it comes to fighting unwanted or controversial development. Words such as ‘traumatised’ ‘exhausted’ ‘depressed’ and ‘rejected’ are used to describe the way people feel after engaging in planning. The long-term impact is that people become very cynical and cease civic engagement opportunities as a result of their negative experiences.
To try and address this problem we have developed the peer support project.