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Stroke group

What we are doing

Three quarters of strokes happen to people aged 65 and over. Stroke groups are self-funded community groups, run and supported by people affected by stroke; they provide essential long-term peer support to stroke survivors and carers in the local community.

The Stroke Association is the UK’s leading stroke charity, working to change the world for people affected by stroke. Every year there are 152,000 strokes in the UK. Stroke can have a devastating impact, happening in an instant, its effects lasting a lifetime.

What's more, the burden of stroke is set to double by 2030, as we increasingly see an ageing population, rising obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the UK, with 600,000 people left coping with long lasting, complex and often hidden effects.

The Stroke Association knows there are gaps in statutory services available for people affected by stroke and they provide that lifeline of support. Quality peer support is a powerful intervention for individuals affected by stroke, and the Stroke Association wants to ensure that 1.2 million stroke survivors can access local peer support where and when they need it, for as long as they need it.

Scaling our model of peer support will increase and improve peer and social support activities available across the UK. We will deliver quality support to more people in a sustainable, cost effective way. We will also share our digitalised evidence base with commissioners, volunteers, donors and other social action organisations that need to expand and scale their peer support models.

Scaling quality stroke peer support will provide more access and opportunities to an ageing population, enabling them to manage their condition, live well and, if able, give their time as a peer or volunteer in order to make a valuable contribution to society.

What we are learning

The Stroke Association’s Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund evaluation, conducted by the Nuffield Trust, found that:

  • Both stroke survivors and carers can benefit from stroke peer support groups, and groups appear to offer an important ‘natural’ environment for recovery - where informally-delivered mutual support, enjoyment and laughter all contribute.
  • Support between peers is at the core of what makes groups work – people find being with others who share their experience, and can validate it, reassuring, supportive, helpful and encouraging. Peer support groups create safe and non-judgemental spaces to make sense of and adjust to life after stroke.
  • Peer support provides people with role models who can help them feel encouraged about their own potential recovery and ability to cope. When members see their peers’ success stories and peers acting as volunteers/group leaders this can boost their morale.

Our ambitions to grow through Accelerating Ideas

We intend to grow our model of peer support, and scale our network across the UK. We will increase our reach by:

  • Scaling the network of Voluntary Groups across the UK, from 127 in December 2015 to 240 by March 2021, with at least 80 per cent of those running groups affected by stroke.
  • Increasing the number of beneficiaries for Voluntary Groups to 10,080 and Speakability Groups to 1,500, in order to realise a total number of beneficiaries supported through our work with clubs and groups to 24,552 by March 2021, of which at least 65 per cent will be aged over 55 years.
  • Increasing the quality of support delivered by Voluntary Groups and Speakability Groups measured by internal quality levels framework.
  • Scaling our new approach to evaluation with 90 per cent of Voluntary Groups trained and able to support individuals with digital data capture on impact and outcomes.
  • Delivering the innovation potential of My Stroke Guide with 40 groups hosting My Stroke Guide buddies in order to support members with online self-management.
  • Embedding innovations such as online befriending to bridge the gap from commissioned services to long term peer and social support.
  • Providing grant opportunities to organisations within hard to reach communities to enable their model of peer support to be accessed by those most at risk of stroke, who are often further isolated by language and translation barriers.