Liz Felton, Together’s CEO, introduces this year’s Annual Review and reflects on our highlights of 2015-16.

Nothing speaks louder than the words of people who have experienced our work first-hand, whether that’s through receiving support, giving support or working with us to extend our reach and develop what we offer. That’s why this year, we’ve asked 15 people who have received our support, delivered our support or worked in partnership with us to give their perspective on what we achieved this year.

In May, we launched the hugely positive findings of a three-year independent evaluation of our model of personalised residential support. The study was funded by the Department of Health and conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, and its findings showed that our support led to people leading healthier lifestyles and moving on to live independently, as well as a significant improvement in their wellbeing. Chris describes his experience of managing one of these services and his delight when the Care Quality Commission rated his service Good this year.

We expanded our peer support provision and launched our Peer Support Charter, which sets out our expectations of what constitutes meaningful, high quality peer support. Matt shares his experience of establishing a team of Peer Supporters in Swale, while Fiona tells us about her experience of delivering one of the self-management workshops we have been piloting this year at our Southwark Wellbeing Hub. The Hub itself provides information, advice and signposting to anyone in Southwark worried about their mental health or that of a friend or family member. Sophie explains why she commissioned Together to deliver this service.

We were recognised for our quality and innovation when we won two awards at the second annual 3rd Sector Care Awards. Our East Sussex Your Way services were credited for their ‘excellent person-centred and informal peer support approaches’. Rob tells us what it was like to play a role in winning this award, having been a user of the service, while Kenny explains why he commissioned Together to deliver these services.

Our Pathways model took the collaboration award for its ‘absolute core passion to work not only with individuals, but to collaborate with other local services and professionals to achieve the best possible outcomes’. Bill talks about our York Pathways service and how it supports the work of local police.

We also won a Howard League for Penal Reform Community Award for our Liaison and Diversion service in North and North East London. We are extending this support to more areas of the country and Paul describes how our Community Link Workers support the delivery of the Liaison and Diversion trial site in South Yorkshire.

Keeping up with developments in the external landscape continues to be a priority, particularly where changes or trends need to inform and shape our services or approaches to delivery. For example, we are now providing Care Act Advocacy in response to new legislation accompanying the Act, which came into effect this year. Daryl explains how our advocacy services adapt to new legislation while Anne and Farah share their experiences from the perspective of advocate and service user.

We have also been developing our work with the newly defined National Probation Service to provide mental health support to people on probation, and training and consultation to probation officers. Christine describes how she supports young people who have become involved with gangs.

Our introduction this year of several new systems for supporting staff to manage risk and improve responses to incidents means we are in a position to maintain an excellent standard of support for the increasing number of people with multiple complex needs using our services. Sarah explains the systems we have put in place to achieve this.

We made significant headway in the preparations for our second Clinical and Recovery-focused Accommodation Service in Swindon, drawing on our experience of establishing our existing service in Wellingborough. Megan describes how CaRFAS has helped her to take her first steps towards living independently.

None of these achievements would have been possible without our incredible staff teams and volunteers. We are as always committed to our aim of involving the people that use our services in every aspect of our work. Mike describes how our Involvement and Leadership Grants encourage both staff and service users to promote meaningful service user leadership within Together.

I hope you enjoy hearing these stories. Together they tell the story of our year.