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
The National Steering Group (NSG) is a group of volunteers who use their lived experience to offer strategic input and oversight to Together, supporting us to drive forward our ambitions and the direction of service user leadership.
NSG will carry out their remit by using a variety of ways to hear the collective voice of people with mental distress to gather information that can influence and inform the organisation. For example, visiting Together services, speaking with service users from external networks, sharing their own knowledge and experiences. The NSG share this information with Together via regular meetings either digitally, at our National Office in London, email and telephone conversations, supported by members of the Service User Leadership Team.
To provide further details on the group, current member Mark Dale describes how he came to be part of it in the video below which he recorded for International Volunteers Day 2021:
You can see the full interview with Mark at https://www.together-uk.org/international-volunteer-day-interview-with-together-national-steering-group-member-mark-dale/.
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:
Lived Experience Leadership Manager
Together for Mental Wellbeing
52 Walnut Tree Walk
Tel: 07566 783229