We are a team from Empowerment working with services and commissioners to create positive change in Blackpool.

The team have lived experience of two or more of the following issues; Homelessness, Mental Health, Offending & Substance Misuse and we are committed to listening to your views surrounding services in Blackpool, finding out what works and what needs to change.

Working together we can create a positive change for those going through similar situations that you have experienced. If you would like to get involved please speak with the team here or call 0300 32 32 100

PEER 4 U, is a ground breaking initiative to tackle head on the loneliness and social isolation experienced by people in Blackpool by with a history of homelessness, mental illness, offending and substance misuse. All of the PEER 4 U team, have lived experience of these issues and will be drawing on that experience to provide mentoring support to others who are looking to connect with new friends, exciting opportunities and volunteering roles. Tackling loneliness and social isolation experienced by people with Multiple Complex Needs through listening, mentoring and community.

Each of the mentee’s will have a history of at least two of the following areas, Substance Misuse, Offending, Mental health or Homelessness. Ideally the mentee will be coming to the end their time within a service and ready to embark on the next stage of their journey.

What Peer 4 U can offer a mentee is someone to walk alongside the next stage of their journey, helping to motivate change, building confidence, helping the individual build support networks and helping them to feel more independent within their lives.

The Peer4U Service is open for referrals to clients of Project Adder. For more info on Project Adder please see here

Project Adder – Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery

The Lived Experience Team support the Project Adder Team building relationships and gaining trust with people who are not engaged with services. This usually means supporting people in Blackpool who are high end crack and heroin users at risk of drug related death.

The team, who are already trusted within the community due to their own lived experience, do this by making a visible presence on the streets of Blackpool offering person centered approach. This could be things such as having a friendly brew and chat to find out what their specific needs are to get them the support they need. 

Currently the team are working towards gaining access to Police Custody Cells to be able to support in diverting people from the Criminal Justice System. 

The LET Team refer people into Project Adder Enhanced Key Workers to enable them to get whatever treatment suits their needs.

Each person referred into Project Adder is buddied up with a mentor from Peer 4U to walk along side them on their journey. This engagement can be anything from having a brew to supporting them into meaningful activities. 

The Prison Leavers Project team provide a wrap around intensive support service from the moment the person leaves prison, starting with preparatory work that takes place with the person in prison prior to their release date.

This team of three full-time Peer Navigators support the person leaving prison to successfully engage with service provisions most notably ‘Project Adder’ and aim to have secured accommodation on the first night of release. The Peer Navigator Service directly addresses the root causes to why people leaving prison re-offend.

Following the work around forming a trusting relationship with the person leaving prison, the one to one work includes:

  • Visiting the Probation Office to meet the offender manager – this is essential, as failure to attend can mean being recalled to prison.
  • Visiting the local authority housing office to arrange accommodation – people without accommodation are required to present in person on the day of their release.
  • Applying for benefits (such as Universal Credit) – claims cannot be made before release and as claims cannot be backdated it is important an application is submitted on the day of release.
  • Collecting prescriptions from a pharmacy – this is particularly urgent for those on opioid substitution treatment (OST – such as methadone) as delays can result in relapse and re-offending.
  • Attending GP appointment – people experiencing multiple disadvantage often have acute physical and/or mental health needs.
  • Emotional support
  • Forming links with positive individuals and communities.

The key outcomes achieved are that the person leaving prison is empowered to lead a life which does not involve criminal behaviour and a subsequent return to prison.

Empowerment believes that each person leaving prison has unique potential to become the best version of themselves. Returning to criminal behaviour is a waste of that potential, supporting people leaving prison to become happy and fulfilled people who are making a positive contribution to their local community is what we will be working so hard to achieve.

Meet The Teams

Nicola Plumb

Lived Experience
Team Manager

About Nicola

I started working with Empowerment in July 2014 as an Apprentice Navigator for the Fulfilling Lives Programme after a period of volunteering within Blackpool substance misuse services. During this time I started my Bachelors degree in Health and Social Care and to develop new skills I also went to work for a partner agency as Life Skills Coordinator. Due to my passion for Empowerment and the Fulfilling Lives programme I returned 12 months later as Volunteer Coordinator. From this I progressed within my role and took on more responsibility as the Lived Experience Team Manager.

My passion has always been to get the voices of people who use services heard and to create an easier pathway to accessing services in Blackpool for people with Multiple and Complex Needs, which this role allows me to do with the support of Empowerment and the Lived Experience Team.

Sophie Leatham
Lived Experience Team
Senior Practitioner

About Sophie

I started working for Empowerment Charity in Blackpool in March 2019 as a Peer 4 U Mentor. As I come from Blackpool myself, I am passionate about helping our Blackpool residents have a voice and access relevant support.

I began my journey by attending college, gaining relevant qualifications and securing a voluntary position within a busy organisation which supports local women. I went on to obtain a work placement with the criminal justice team for a further year.

My position with Empowerment is ideal as I am able to work within a recovery model that I am both passionate and proud to be a part of whilst working towards obtaining my Bsc (hons) Psychology Degree.

Leesa Newall Jones
Lived Experience Team
Senior Practitioner

About Leesa


Meet the Peer 4 U Peer Mentors

John McManus
Peer 4 U Peer Mentor

About John

I started volunteering with the Lived Experience Team in 2018. I am now working with Empowerment with the Peer 4 U as a peer mentor. I am also at college doing Health and Social care.

I am from Blackpool and have a passion to help the people of Blackpool with Multiple Complex Needs.

I want to help people by believing in them to make change helping get their voices heard and by showing them kindness and respect.

I am in recovery myself and was in and out of services for a long time.

I want to give back and make a difference in peoples lives I love seeing people get well and will do anything I can to help.

Zenia Moreano
Peer 4 U Peer Mentor

About Zenia

I have been in recovery since 2019, in early recovery I came across many barriers. The help and support I got from other recovering addicts inspired me to help others in my situation. I am very aware of the need to support the most vulnerable in my hometown. I volunteer at the Temporary bed unit.  I have been to college and gained qualifications in Health and social care level 2.  I now work at Empowerment as a Peer Mentor.  I have a passion for helping others and love to watch people turning their lives around.

Patricia Entwistle Peer 4 U Peer Mentor

About Patricia

I have lived around Blackpool for fifteen years and have made it my home. I feel strongly about helping people here to turn their lives around. I started working for empowerment in March as a Peer 4 U mentor because I have a passion for helping people with multiple complex needs. I believe and want, everyone to have a voice.

I am on the Lived Experience Team and am a volunteer for Fulfilling Lives and have volunteered for Inspire, I did 1 year volunteer work in a rehabilitation unit and volunteered in soup kitchens. I have done a lot of courses on drug and alcohol and mental health awareness. I am currently in college for health and social care. I am excited about working with Empowerment because I have recovered from these issues and love seeing people get well.

Neil Hatrison-Scott
Peer 4 U Peer Mentor

About Neil

I started volunteering in a peer-led support group I am part of in Blackpool in 2019. I found that I enjoyed the role of co-facilitating groups which helped me with my needs  (being in recovery  from substance misuse, and still in supported housing myself).

I decided to study Level 2 qualifications in Health + Social Care as well as Safeguarding, which I passed in 2020. I am currently studying Substance Misuse Interventions and hope to pass my Level 3 in Substance Misuse later this year.

I am enjoying my experience in mentoring and supporting people with similar needs I had myself. I enjoy showing my gratitude by giving back to people I can relate to.  I now wake up every morning with a purpose, which keeps me focused.

Angela Goodfellow
Peer 4 U Peer Mentor

About Angela


Jamie-Lee Curry
Homeless Mental Health Team

About Jamie-Lee

Meet the Prison Leavers Peer Navigators

Ben Johnson
Prison Leavers Project Peer Navigator

About Ben

I started working with Empowerment on the Peer4u project as part of the Lived Experience Team in 2019. Since then I have gained my level 3 Diploma in Counselling and I have completed DANOS so am a qualified drug worker. With these skills and my life experience, I feel I have found my home with Empowerment whose values sit within my own, especially that of kindness.

The Prison Leaver’s Project is a much needed service to face, head on, some of the shortcomings of the Justice system where people with multiple disadvantages are being set up to fail. I know, from my personal experience, how difficult and challenging it is to break out of the cycle of addiction and offending. Upon release from prison, after a long sentence, I was fortunate to have support from my family as I moved into a flat with my brother and went working with my Uncle. I still found it very difficult adapting back into society, even opening a bank account was nigh on impossible. I had no ID and my Grandma had to come into the bank with me to persuade the manager to open up an account for me.

By supporting these people coming out of prison with housing, benefits, probation, medical appointments and encouraging them to find purpose in college, volunteering or employment I know our team can make a difference.

Steven Brown
Prison Leavers Project Peer Navigator

About Steven

My name is Steven brown a Peer Navigator on the Prison leavers programme.

I have been in recovery since 2016.  I am a local Blackpool lad and have been in and out of Prison most of my life.  I have been homeless had problems with drugs and have been with Blackpool services most of my life.

After being released from prison in 2016 I went into a recovery house in Blackpool and learned how to live a drug free life, got some education,  started volunteering then I got a job with permitted work on the lived experience team on system change in Blackpool.

I then took a full time job on Project Adder to help people with multiple complex needs.

I am very passionate about people coming out of prison and have done a lot of work around prisons.

When I heard about the Prison Leavers Project, I jumped at the chance for this new role. I know to well the barriers people face from Blackpool coming out of prison and I believe that with the right help and support anybody coming out can change their life for the better.

David Wilson
Prison Leavers Project Peer Navigator

About David

My name is David Wilson I am a Peer Navigator on the Prison Leavers project at Empowerment Charity.

I have been in recovery since 2015 after many decades in addiction, and numerous prison sentences, each time I left prison, with very limited help, I always ended up in the same circumstances that led me back to prison.

I have lived in Blackpool since 1988 and am well aware of the problems people with complex needs face in this town, and the daily struggles they have.

After spending the first few years of my recovery in the construction industry, I decided that the time I spent in addiction, the things I had to do to fund that, and my experience in recovery, gave me a unique set of skills to enable me to help others.

There were certain people who helped me get to where I am in recovery, to whom I will be forever grateful. This position came up with the Prison Leavers Project at Empowerment, which was ideal for me to give something back to the community I live in.