Service User Leadership
Service User Leadership is our core principle
Our core principle at together is service user leadership. We believe service user leadership does not only benefit those people who are accessing support; the benefits can have a positive impact on all aspects of Together, and wider society.
A key element of service user leadership is the power of lived experience. We want to be able to learn from people who have a range of views and who have experienced mental distress in different ways and whose lives have been affected in different ways to inform and influence Together from a Lived Experience perspective.
Because these terms are at the heart of our work at Together we worked with our service users and teams to clearly define them and developed the following definitions:
Our definition of service user leadership is as follows:
“Service user leadership empowers people to make choices that affect their lives, lead their journey to wellbeing on their own terms and to collectively influence and improve services, organisations and society.”
Our definition of lived experience is:
“A person who has experienced mental distress, and who can draw on their unique knowledge and personal insights to connect with others, influencing and informing from a lived experience perspective.”
National Involvement Partnership’s 4PI National Standards
A national voice for people who use mental health services
Together was involved in the development of the National Involvement Partnership’s 4PI national standards for the involvement of service users and carers in mental health and social care services. Together has now signed up to review and refresh our approach in line with these to ensure the meaningful involvement of service users within our organisation in line with national best practice.
National Steering Group
Together’s National Steering Group (NSG) is a team of people with lived experience of mental distress who are elected for three-year terms, to discuss issues and influence the direction of both our service user involvement activities and Together as a whole.
The National Steering Group has two places on the Together Board of Trustees, and the Board also has two other places for people who have lived experience of mental distress. Four members of the NSG also sit on Together’s Broader Management Group. In this way, service users use their own experiences to influence and lead on a range of issues from governance through to our local projects.
Peer support and self management
Peer support takes place when people with experience of mental distress support each other towards better wellbeing, as people of equal value and on a reciprocal basis, using their own lived experience as a tool for support. We work with Peer Supporters across many Together services, who draw on their own lived experience to support people in a variety of ways. This includes one-to-one support between a Peer Supporter and someone using our services, and peer support groups.
One type of peer support group available across many Together services are Self Management Groups, where people work together with their peers to develop and share skills to improve their wellbeing and celebrate their successes. Together worked with the Mental Health Foundation to develop and pilot Self Management Groups. You can read more here about Together’s approach to peer support.
Involvement and Leadership Grant Scheme
Together’s Involvement and Leadership Grant Scheme is open to both Together staff and people who use our services who have an initiative or idea around service user involvement or leadership. Applications are judged by a management committee formed of people who have experience of using mental health services and the scheme has supported ideas across our services, ranging from getting active with football therapy, service user involvement within our criminal justice services, training and the setting up of new groups, as well as many more.
Contact us about service user leadership:
Interim Volunteer Development Manager
Together for Mental Wellbeing
52 Walnut Tree Walk
Tel: 07734 192002