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Greater Manchester welcomes first learning disability peers

Greater Manchester’s first learning disability peer support workers have been recruited to improve care for some of the area’s most vulnerable people.

Four people have been appointed to the brand-new roles, which are part of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust’s learning disability care hub. 

The new recruits all have a learning disability or have used learning disability services. They’ll work with learning disability teams in Bury; Heywood, Middleton, and Rochdale; Oldham; Stockport and Tameside and Glossop.

Using their personal experiences, they’ll help service users to set and achieve life goals, stay well, communicate what they think, want, and feel, and get involved with activities and groups. They’ll work across all learning disability teams and help with service improvement projects.

The part-time roles are paid, and they’ll benefit from support to complete a qualification, learn lots of new things and develop new friendships. 

Maddie Wareing, 27, from Rochdale is one of the new peer support workers. She said: “I’m really excited to be a new peer support worker. I really want to help other people with a learning disability, like me, to have a voice in their support. I have lived experience and I feel I can understand their needs and wants.”

In addition to the new roles, a lived experience group has been set up. Four other people who applied for the roles have agreed to join and will play an important role in shaping improvements. 

Karen Maneely, network director of operations for specialist services, said: “We’re delighted to welcome our four new peer support workers. They’ll work with teams across our five boroughs and play a vital role in helping people achieve their full potential and lead happy and fulfilled lives.

“The roles received lots of interest from some exceptional people. One of our big ambitions is to have people with lived experience shaping every decision, so it’s great they’ve agreed to join our new lived experience group. 

“We’re looking forward to working with them and making improvements based on their valuable knowledge and experiences. In return, we can provide them with valuable volunteering experience and new skills.”  

The new recruits join 15 mental health peer support workers, who have been supporting a range of Pennine Care’s adult and older people’s mental health services since 2022.

James Stephens, peer support worker programme manager, said: “‘It’s fantastic our team of peer support workers has expanded to cover learning disability services. Our peers make a really positive difference using their lived experience to support people, and this will be especially true in these exciting new roles.”

People with a learning disability face significant health inequalities compared to the general population. In Greater Manchester, the average age of death is 63 for males and 61 for females; a disparity of 25 years and 20 years respectively. A significant number of people also experience vulnerability, isolation, and abuse.

Pennine Care’s learning disability care hub is committed to tackling these issues by strengthening services and improving care. People can find out more at www.penninecare.nhs.uk/ld.

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