Archive of European Projects

Training Opportunities for Peer Supporters with Intellectual Disabilities in Europe: new horizons
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Dec 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project TOPSIDE+ aims at enlarging and enriching the existing TOPSIDE peer training and to support the development of policies for peer support and peer training. Peer-to-Peer activities have proven to be very useful to support the development of skills of persons with intellectual disabilities because they create unique opportunities to facilitate the transmission of skills due to the more similar life-experiences of trainer and trainee compared to a professional trainer. From 2011 to 2013, the project TOPSIDE (518166-LLP-1-2011-1-BE-GRUNDTVIG-GMP/2011-4039) developed indeed a new type of inclusive curriculum to train people with intellectual disabilities to become Peer Supporters. These results are available at Recently, the General Comment on Article 12 on legal capacity of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has created more possibilities and potential support for Peer Support and Peer Training. There is therefore a world-wide need to define and gain more experience on peer support and peer training and to disseminate concrete and practical good practices in this field to support people with intellectual disabilities to take control over their own lives. The TOPSIDE+ project therefore has the following specific objectives: • Further validation of the peer support and peer training concept in new environments and in new countries: France, Germany, Lithuania and Portugal • Extend the know-how and the teaching material available for peer support, including teaching material specifically for peer trainers with intellectual disabilities • Promote the concept of peer support and peer training among national and European stakeholders and policy-makers, including in an easy-to-understand way for people with intellectual disabilities • Develop policy recommendations at national and EU level to support the development and implementation of Peer Support for people with intellectual disabilities. TOPSIDE+ will address mainly people with intellectual disabilities who are the main beneficiaries of the TOPSIDE+ outputs. The Peer Support training will enable the trainees with intellectual disabilities to provide support to peers who have the same disability. This is the reason why the target group itself is included actively in the development work of TOPSIDE+. In addition to the four co-trainers with intellectual disabilities, 36 persons with intellectual disabilities will be trained to become Peer Supporters and another 24 persons will benefit from a train-the-trainer seminar after the pilot phase. Some project outputs will be designed mainly for adult education professionals who are working with people with intellectual disabilities. These professional trainers will be part of the team as well. Finally, some project outputs are primarily designed for a larger group of stakeholders who need to be acquainted with the concept of peer support: people with intellectual disabilities, family members and professionals, who are working with people with intellectual disabilities, but also policy-makers, who need to understand the role of peer support. The TOPSIDE+ project will organise the following main activities: 1. Translate, adapt, test and publish the TOPSIDE Curriculum in German, French, Lithuanian and Portuguese, using a pilot training course during which the material will be verified by users with intellectual disabilities from the partner countries. 2. Translate and adapt the TOPSIDE Guidelines for Trainers and Mentors 3. Enhance the TOPSIDE outputs by developing new exercises and an easy-to-read TOPSIDE curriculum, which will be verified by users with intellectual disabilities also by employing the pilot training course. 4. Define national and European strategies and policies on Peer Support. 5. Train-the-trainers at national level 6. Dissemination In the development phase, the partners will articulate their exploitation plans for the TOPSIDE+ peer supporters, which will guarantee the sustainability of the project results and the effective implementation of the TOPSIDE+ project. In the second phase of the project, the TOPSIDE+ partners will disseminate the TOPSIDE+ results and the concept of peer support among national and European stakeholders. The training of Peer Supporters for people with intellectual disability during the project will take place at local and/or regional level. As described above, this will have a positive impact on the lives of the direct participants, but also help to promote Peer Support at local and/or regional level. The European Policy Recommendations will ensure a large impact at European level. The long-term benefits of the project are potentially huge because TOPSIDE has the potential to become a world-wide reference on Peer Support for all the countries that have ratified the Convention and for the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
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