ALF is a beneficiary led organisation. This means that everyone who works within ALF in any role, has experienced, recovered, and then prospered from the types of challenges faced by those we now support.
ALF value, and know from experience, how vital meaningful occupation is to improving and sustaining mental and emotional health. We offer all peers who come to us, the opportunity to become involved in ‘giving back’ in some way. Reciprocating care and attention, feeling valued in our communities, and having meaning and purpose are all vital needs that need to be met in order to enable humans to survive and thrive (see essential human needs pie below – adapted from Maslow and Self-Determination theories).
In the words of Bill W. founder of the largest and longest running global peer support fellowship in the world, Alcoholics Anonymous ‘Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery’.
ALF train and supervise volunteer coachers, counsellors and peer support workers and are working towards accreditation for the Peer Support training programmes which are run via the Community College for Applied Commerce (www.ccfac.org ).
The meaning of Peer Support in the ALF context, is best described by one of the founding mothers of the Intentional Peer Support framework:
‘Peer Support is a system of giving and receiving help, founded on the key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. Peer Support is not based on psychiatric models and diagnostic criteria. It is about understanding empathically through the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain’ Shery Mead, 2003.
In addition to the serious benefits of the intentional peer support approach, is the fact that ALF also know and value the importance of having a sense of humour, especially when our lives may have been tainted with pain and tragedy. It is important to remain light-hearted in a world which can often feel absurd. We run our peer support PoppIns with a light and humourous touch. Peers will always feel a part of the ALF extended family, which is our lifelong commitment to uphold and tend to, with a fair and firm approach.
ALF Values and Principles
We choose to live and work by the values and principles of ALF peer support and respectfully share with the group as a suggested framework
Just for today:
I will be calm, focused, and willing to listen
I choose to be considerate, kind and generous
I am grateful for giving and receiving support to and from all living beings.
I decide to work hard to keep my commitments.
- Peer Support builds bridges; past to present, you to me, and us to all others.
- Our experience of the past makes us worthy for peering into the future.
- We share what we can, time, humour, and funds for the kitty.
- Mutual respect and generosity are underpinned by fairness and firmness in the support we give and receive.
- Our facilitators guide and encourage, we lead ourselves.
- Peer support’s foundation is built on honour, respect and privacy.