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Real lives: promoting recovery through personalisation and peer support

Rachel Perkins (ImROC, London, UK)
Julie Atkins (Real Lives, Nottingham, UK)
Nicole Hunter (Real Lives, Nottingham, UK)
Poppy Repper (Real Lives, Nottingham, UK)
Peter David Robertson (Real Lives, Nottingham, UK)
Phoebe Thornton (Crocus Cafe, Real Lives, Nottingham, UK)
Sue Thornton (Real Lives, Nottingham, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 9 March 2015



The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of Real Lives: a community interest company that provides peer support for people who face significant mental health challenges using personal budgets.


The paper offers a descriptive summary of the vision behind Real Lives and the successful realisation of this vision in practice based on interviews by the first author with the directors, Operational Manager, Cafe Manager and “Peers and Allies for in Living” who provide support to clients.


The successful development of Real Lives shows that it is possible to utilise peer support and personal budgets to a create small, values based, financially viable organisation outside the statutory sector that is part of its community and can provide outside the statutory sector. A service for people facing significant mental health challenges that is personalised, recovery-focused and puts the client in control and is focused on helping them to do the things they want to do and pursue their aspirations.


Real Lives is an innovative recovery-focused service that is part of its community and offers a model for utilising Self-Directed Support and personal budgets and that might be replicated by others.



Perkins, R., Atkins, J., Hunter, N., Repper, P., Robertson, P.D., Thornton, P. and Thornton, S. (2015), "Real lives: promoting recovery through personalisation and peer support", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 22-29.



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