Peer-supporters with intellectual disabilities take charge

BRUSSELS, 12 February 2014

Dozens of persons with intellectual disabilities in six European countries were trained to support their peers in daily life activities and decision-making.

They are the graduates of a peer-training programme created by the European project TOPSIDE: Training Opportunities for Peer-Supporters with Intellectual Disabilities, led by Inclusion Europe together with partner organisations in the Czech Republic, Finland, Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Peer-supporters share common life experiences with their peers and by doing so offer them different views and solutions which can help them to take decisions. That is why they are in a unique position to provide effective support and to help persons with intellectual disabilities develop independent living skills. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also recognised the role of peer-support in helping persons with intellectual disabilities make their own choices.

Based on experiences from existing peer-to-peer activities, the project created and tested a training programme with more than 150 exercises which allows trainees to develop the wide range of skills needed to support their peers. The Guidelines for trainers explain the methodology and how it can be adapted to the needs of participants.

To help future peer-supporters understand their tasks, the project partners developed Materials for peer-supporters where trainees can record what they have learned. Finally, the project also created Guidelines for mentors who shall encourage persons with intellectual disabilities to continue in their commitment.

A participant of the peer-training in Spain noted: ‘I found it important to learn how to communicate with the person, how to treat them; that it is important to respect them, to listen to them; how to understand their problems and how to give them enough confidence so that they can handle what was bothering them.’

Visit to learn about project outcomes and experiences from TOPSIDE peer-training.

For more information, please, contact:

Petra Letavayova
Communications Officer
Inclusion Europe
Tel: +32 2 502 28 15
Fax: +32 2 502 80 10