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“David” an 8 year old boy with classic Autism, came to us after being removed from his home by DCF. He was non-verbal, using grunting sounds and pointing or acting out to communicate his thoughts and feelings. He had an intense fear of going outside and making transitions to new places was overwhelming for him. His academic skills were extremely low and he was not getting any real educational services due to the upheaval in his life. HCRS staff immediately began to identify the services he would need to progress and grow. A shared living provider was found who has given him a wonderful family environment to live and grow in. David now goes to school for the whole day. He is using his words more than ever and instead of pulling on someone or grunting or pointing, he is prompted to use requests like “ Can I use the computer, please,” without being told.

Peer SupportWhat is Peer Support?

Peer support is an approach to building relationships that are mutual and genuine. Mutual means that something is only working if it's working for both/all parties. Genuine means that we are going to show up ready to connect on a human-to-human level as a learner and not an expert.

Peer support staff are chosen for their ability to relate and connect with others, in part because of their life experience. They are able to relate to distress, marginalization, and oppression because they have been through it.

Peer Support May Be Helpful If Someone:

Is looking for connection or to be heard
Needs more support than they are currently getting
Isn't understanding or being understood by other providers and needs a "translator" or mediator
Has an advocacy need

Would like to talk to another person who has had a similar experience (it's possible that no one on our team has had this particular experience, but we try to connect people and find that shared experience)

Wants to get connected to a community/group/etc.
Is interested in exploring alternative perspectives to make sense of their experience
Is feeling traumatized or harmed by treatment/the system
Is looking for support or information on reducing, changing, or eliminating psychiatric drugs


The Life Enrichment Center

The LEC is a hub for life-enriching activiites, conversations, and advocacy for anyone over 18 who works at or receives services from HCRS. Peer support staff manage operations for this community space. The LEC is open Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 am - 2:00 pm and is located at the HCRS main office at 390 River Street in Springfield, Vermont. Activities include various mutual support groups, arts and crafts, meditation, games, music, and more!

What Else Do We Do?

Social Justice:

We do our best to represent the voice of the psychiatric survivor community in agency practices, policies, and culture and to help move the system to a more holistic, non-pathologizing, and rights-conscious approach.

Building Community and Capacity:

We are interested in helping to make mutual support more accessible to HCRS clients and the community at large by supporting the development of grassroots support networks, facilitating groups, and sharing peer support skills and values. The Life Enrichment Center is one example of how this is happening in Springfield.

How to Connect with The Peer Support Team

Peer Support Line:

(802) 886-4567 ext. 2625 (leave a message wtih your contact info and we will call you back)

Peer Support Email:

Or talk with one of your HCRS providers about connecting with us