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Peer Welfare Ambassadors

PWAs is a volunteer training programme for people with lived experience of disadvantage who want to help peers who have experienced similar disadvantage. 

We want to extend the range of services and provision within the heart of the Cheetham Hill community through fully trained local Peer Welfare Ambassadors (PWAs). PWAs are people with lived experience around priority themes: Refugees and Asylum Seekers; Coercion and Control; Suicide and Self Harm; Men's Wellbeing; Mental Health. PWAs engage with the most isolated and vulnerable in our communities through a peer-to-peer approach. This provision focuses on ‘The Law and Human Right Based Approaches.’ This opens up the opportunity for PWAs to become McKenzie Friends. PWAs are able to gain qualifications in volunteering and be supported to progress to specialised qualifications which will help their own career aspirations.

PWAs undergo a 30hr overarching volunteer induction and training programme ‘Peer Welfare Ambassadors Certificate’, fully accredited through ASDAN. The programme engages PWAs into the FAST community, helps them explore their talents and passions, get to know each other, develop team skills and a knowledge base that ensures they are able to volunteer safely and effectively.


Further training run in conjunction with specialist agencies such as Manchester Mental Health and Social Welfare Trust and Refugee Action enables PWAs to run thematic health and well-being activities to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities:

  • weekly women’s support group;

  • twice weekly ICT drop-in;

  • over 50s club;

  • twice weekly craft group;

  • twice weekly health and well-being workshops around fitness and food;

  • weekly men’s health forum;

  • weekly make and sell group;

  • learning to Lunch – sharing food and friendship;

  • Work Club.

Where circumstances are serious, PWAs link with experts in the field such as mental health agencies, the police, social services.


PWAs are able to progress to on-the-job training alongside the 60hr training programme through facilitating targeted provision alongside professionals and experts in the field.


  • English My Way - PWAs become support workers and digital champions and help improve language and ICT skills through a blended ICT programme. They are able to access the PTTLS qualification through Manchester Adult Education Service.

  • New Beginnings - PWAs from a refugee or asylum-seeker background with a specific interest in refugees and asylum seekers support people by introducing them into environments where they can meet their peers and integrate into community activity. The PWAs collectively build a team of buddies from within the groups.

  • Learning to Care - Women PWAs gain the skills and experience to work in outreach across their communities to engage with their isolated and marginalised peers, encouraging them to participate in activity which is perceived by family and community as supporting, not undermining, community values or families’ concepts of role. The PWAs help women take the first steps towards improved social mobility by providing a linguistically and culturally sensitive environment in which women can begin to become involved in community activity. They are trusted ‘others’.

  • Men’s Health Matters - Men PWAs have a similar remit as their women counterparts.

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