Beyond the Banter: Breaking down barriers with a peer-led approach.

In early 2022, we tested a peer-led community-based approach aimed at breaking down the barriers young Black men and boys face regarding emotional wellbeing and mental health. Our goal? Just to get people talking. That’s what Beyond the Banter is all about. The approach centres on creating safe spaces where young people can learn from their peers and, in turn, start their own conversations while also promoting help-seeking behaviours.

Over six months spanning 2021 and 2022, we worked alongside a group of Peer Educators who were mentored and trained to deliver intervention workshops in the community. By partnering with community organisations and groups, we were able to reach 286 boys and young men over a one-month period.

I am very passionate about my role as a Peer Educator. With more knowledge and understanding, I believe we can make a big difference by impacting others with our stories.

Safer London Beyond the Banter Peer Educator

This week on the 27th September we were invited to host and facilitate a breakout session at the Children and Young People’s Now Early Help Conference, sharing with delegates our experience of developing Beyond the Banter and the subsequent professionals’ guide.

Safer London Expert Criminal Violence Caseworker Davis talking about the issues young Black men face as the motivation behind Beyond the Banter.

We also challenged them to think about how they might adapt the approach to the children and young people they are working with.

Through discussions we

  • Talked about how the model might be adapted to other groups of children and young people, taking into consideration gender identity and ethnicity.
  • Discussed how we can make spaces safe and welcoming, taking into consideration cultural competence and intersectionality.
  • Learnt about other amazing peer led projects happening across the UK. 
Delegates sharing their own expriences of running peer led projects and how they feel they could adapt it with the children and young people they are working with.

We are really proud of the work of Beyond the Banter. The dedication of the Peer Educators and community organisations we worked alongside ensured it made an impact with the young Londoners we wanted to reach. To now be able to share our learning across the sector is a great privilege and we hope that this approach will be considered by others working with children and young people.

After the session a participant expressed “What you shared today gave me hope… the energy, insight and knowledge you shared about this topic is commendable.” – and that for us is what it is all about, inspiring others so together as a collective can we cultivate change.

Mental health is nothing to be ashamed of

Beyond the Banter Workshop attendee

You can view the presentation slides from the day here.