The overall objective of the TOPSIDE project was to develop peer support and peer training as a new component in informal adult education for people with intellectual disabilities. To realise this objective, TOPSIDE aimed to develop and test a training curriculum for adult Peer Supporters that enables people with intellectual disabilities to informally train and provide support to their peers. Recognition of this Curriculum was sought by the leading organisations of and for people with intellectual disabilities in Europe and thus provided the basis for a common European approach in this area.
- develop an inventory of skills necessary for providing adequate Peer Support, including e.g. decision-making processes, skills for dealing with difficult behaviour etc., which will serve as a basis for the training programme.
- collect experiences and practices of trainings on basic skills from the project partners
- develop a draft training curriculum for adult Peer Supporters, together with Methodological Guidelines for Trainers and Material for Peer Supporters.
- test the developed curriculum, methods and the training material with a team of future peer supporters during a half-year course
- finalize the Curriculum and the Training Material in each project country
- develop European transfer material to promote this innovative training method
- acquire recognition of the Curriculum by the leading intellectual disability organisations in at least 15 EU and EFTA countries
- research possibilities for applying the training in other EU countries and for an official certification
- present the curriculum and the training programme at local, national and European level in order to promote the qualification as Peer Supporter
A team of qualified experts on adult education, both mainstream and specialized on people with intellectual disabilities ensured the high quality of the project activities and deliverables.
The new “function” of Peer Supporter not only offered new training opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to reinforce their basic skills but it also offer ed new employment or volunteering opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to reinforce their active citizenship through the recognition of their skills.
The trained TOPSIDE Peer Supporters were therefore able to use their new skills in different settings: in self-advocacy organisations to provide support for other members of that organisation, in counselling services accessible to people with intellectual disabilities, or in organisations of (legal) guardians/supporters to complement the support provided from a peer perspective.
Adults with intellectual disabilities benefiting from the training and support by their TOPSIDE Peers had access to new opportunities of informal education that reinforced their active citizenship and their capacity to be included in the society.
People with intellectual disabilities were fully involved in the project, in the design of the activities as well as in their implementation. The TOPSIDE Material for Peer Supporters was created with and for them to meet their needs and to support the informal trainings they will perform as peer supporters. The team of peer supporters was therefore fully involved during the whole process of creation, testing and evaluation of the training material.