Volunteer-Led Approach

This project will actively value the importance of peer support principles in mental health and the shared experience of mental illness. This project will be shaped and led by participants, volunteers and staff who are directly and indirectly effected by mental health issues. Peer support for people with similar life experiences or ‘lived’ experience is tremendously important towards navigating through difficult situations (Reissman, 1989; Roberts & Rappaport, 1989) especially when rebuilding a sense of community as mental health can be a disconnecting experience.

This principle will be through out our project and supported by the Steering group.

The Steering group is made up of 3-6 members/participants of the project, 1 Chilli Studio staff, 2 project volunteers and 1 Staff from Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives. The steering groups’ aim is to help make sure that the voice of those experiencing Mental Health issues are active and prominent in the project. As well as this important aspect they will support help shape the direction of the project and that it is follows the aims and objectives.

Download here: Steering Group Shared Values (PDF) 



Disability North will conduct our robust evaluation of all stages of the project. Established in 1985, Disability North is a registered charity working with and for disabled people, empowering them to maximise the control they have over their own lives. Led by CEO Dr Victoria Armstrong with extensive research and evaluation experience. Lead by Disability North who will be commissioned to deliver a peer lead evaluation throughout the timeline of the “Heads and Tales” project. Including 2-4 training sessions regarding facilitation and evaluation methods for participants and those experiencing Mental Health issues. Our evaluation will be tailored to each group we engage – stakeholders, participants, volunteers and the public.

Outcomes of evaluation to:

  • Endeavour best practise
  • Making project and organisations responsible in law and ethics
  • Ensuring user/participatory led project
  • Ensuring project to be responsive, to review, evaluate and adapt to achieve aims and objectives and maintain flexibility to ensure this.
  • Ensuring legacy and support of project.

The Wellness Framework

The Wellness Framework is a guide to creating a safe  & empowering environment for workshop participants experiencing mental health conditions.  The first section looks at communication, triggers and coping strategies. The second section shows how to use the framework as a facilitator. Definitions have been placed under titles through out. The Framework is intended to be a flexible and adaptive supporting document.

This document was created as part of Chilli Studios, ‘Heads & Tales’ HLF project (2018). A heritage project working – with those suffering from mental health conditions – to rebalance historical narratives and tackle present day stigmas.  This project was built on the belief that heritage is a positive force for personal developmenteducation and social change. Giving a voice to underrepresented people – to enable empowerment and equality in, and beyond, archives – is the ultimate aim of the project.

At the centre of this document is an emphasis on a  participant-led approach. As well as, ensuring:  opinions are respected and not censored;  all voices are heard; people are supported to engage with difficult topics; healthy debate and discussion; and facilitator confidence.

This guide works in conjunction with an organizations’ own policies on safeguarding, code of conduct, boundaries, confidentiality & equal opportunities. Please familiarise yourself with these policies before facilitating a session.  Contact Chilli Studios (or other host organisation) to get these documents.

Wellness framework 0719_CS (PDF)