People with lived experience of recovering from multiple needs are often best placed to understand the needs of people earlier in their own recovery.

The You First partnership programme benefits from the advice and challenge of the Expert Service User Reference Group (ESURG) and can offer beneficiaries peer advisors to support them to recover.    


ESURG is a voluntary, independent panel of individuals with lived experience of homelessness, mental health issues, substance misuse and the justice system.

We work with the Big Lottery funded, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Fulfilling Lives Partnership and with other Fulfilling Lives partnerships across the country to ensure that people with multiple needs get the support they need and that the services they use reflect this need. The group play a key advisory role in the success of the programme.

What we do

ESURG use the experience of its members to inform the work of the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Fulfilling Lives Partnership. The partnership aims to improve local support for people with multiple needs. ESURG provide advice and make recommendations to the programme, provide casework advice to the You First team and are free to develop any projects that they think might inform the programme or help highlight the issues faced by people with multiple needs.

National Expert Citizens’ Group (NECG)

The National Expert Citizens’ Group (NECG) brings together the expert groups from all of the Big Lottery Fund Fulfilling Lives partnerships across the country, including ESURG. The group discusses the issues that most affect people with multiple needs and use their experiences to work towards a national approach to these issues.

Peer Advisors

What is a peer support?

Peer support involves people sharing knowledge, experience or practical help with each other. It is a process whereby someone with lived experience of an issue can use this experience to support somebody who is going through the same thing. For example, someone with experience of drug dependency may support someone with drug issues by drawing on shared personal experience to provide knowledge, social interaction and support.

Many voluntary and community organisations see the value in peer support and use peer advisors/supporters to support the work that they do.

Peer advisors and the You First team

You First works with people who are leading chaotic lives and have multiple needs. These needs are a combination of housing, mental health, substance misuse and offending problems. The programme workers are supported in their work by peer advisors. Peer advisors can bring a more intimate perspective of the different issues our beneficiaries face. They know what it is like. They may know what it is like to struggle to secure a service that reflects their needs, they may understand how, for example, issues around housing can lead to other problems including mental health issues and substance misuse.

Does peer support work?

Research suggests that peer support helps to aid recovery. It suggests that it can improve behaviour, health outcomes and service use among people with long-term physical and mental health conditions. It can also provide the peer supporter/advisor with practical work experience and new skills.

How can you get involved?

If you have lived experience of any of, homelessness, substance misuse, mental health issues or the justice system, live or use services in Lambeth, Southwark or Lewisham, and want to use your experience to support others, you may want to consider joining us as a volunteer peer advisor. For an informal chat please call Dave Mahon, Peer Development Manager, on 0203 581 0304.