Deciding The "What and Why" Of Your Peer Support Project

What do you need to consider when you are setting up a peer support project for people living with HIV?

Whether you are setting up a peer support project within an existing organisation or starting from scratch independently; whether you have funding or are working with limited to no resources – you need to be clear about the reasons you are setting up the project. Setting up a peer support project is incredibly fulfilling, but it also requires planning and time – and at times it can be frustrating. There is no point investing either time or money for a project where there is no evidence of need and/or the target group is unwilling to engage. The following questions may help you to decide how to set your project up, and what it might look like:

Who are the beneficiaries for your project?

  • Will you be working with men and women?
  • Are you targeting a specific demographic e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality?
  • Are you considering all the groups of people living with HIV in your area?

How many people will benefit and where are they?

  • How many people living with HIV are living in the area you are working in?
  • If you have a particular target group – how many people in that group are living in the area you are working in?
  • Are you excluding any groups of people living with HIV?
  • How easy will it be for your target group to access your project?

What research/evidence exists that there is a need for your project?

  • Have you considered any information that supports the need for and value of peer support for people living with HIV generally, and in your target area?

What other HIV Services exist in your area?

  • Are there any other services for people living with HIV are there in your area and what kind of support are they offering?
  • Are the services run through a clinic and/or a local organisation?
  • Is there potential for you to work together?

What will your project look like?

  • Are you planning one-to-one or group support – or both?
  • Will your groups be single gender or mixed?
  • Will you be working in partnership to deliver the project?
  • How much of the project is funded?
  • Is your project face to face or virtual (online) – or both?
  • Where will you deliver your project – in the clinic, on hospital HIV wards, at local HIV services or out in the community? If you are delivering from one setting to the other – how will you refer?
  • How many people will benefit from your project?
  • How long will your project run for?
  • Are you a small-scale project – e.g. one person supporting an individual or a small group of people?

More information is available here.

How will you measure the success of your project?

  • What are your aims and objectives and how will you know they have been met?
  • What are your outcomes and outputs?
  • How will you know the benefit of peer support – i.e. how will you evaluate your project?

Considering the above questions will help you better understand the time and resources you need to set up your project. It will also help you formulate your plan which you can refer to over the lifetime of your peer support project. Having a clear plan for your project is key to its success. A clear, easily understood and well-structured project has far greater chance of success and sustainability than something that is unstructured with no clear aim.

Tip: Your plan does not have to be over complicated – it just needs to be clear, to you and to your audience. A realistic plan that accurately describes what you plan to do, why and how you plan to do it and how much it will cost increases your chances of securing funding.