Find out more about Service User Leadership
The value and importance of working alongside people with lived experience of mental distress has been recognised and established within the mental health field for many years. At Together, we have proudly adopted this approach throughout the history of delivering our services, meaning that service user leadership has been a long-standing ethos of our organisation.
Our unique approach to working alongside people with lived experience of mental distress has continued to evolve over the years as the external landscape of what is recognised as the most valuable and effective way of doing so continues to grow and develop. Historically, Together has supported a service user involvement approach which continues to be an incredibly useful and widely recognised model for working alongside those with lived experience of mental distress. However, we made the decision to build on the service user involvement foundation by transitioning towards service user leadership. This means that we give people choice and agency in leading decisions around their own care, as well as decisions that directly improve the design and delivery of services as a whole.
With this in mind, Together developed the following definition of service user leadership that reflects our commitment to how we work alongside people with lived experience of mental distress:-
Furthermore, we define lived experience as:-
At Together we work directly alongside the people that use our services, and people with lived experience of mental distress, so that the decisions we make reflect the wants and needs of the people who use them, and those within their wider communities. We recognise that through utilising the breadth of knowledge and experience of our most valuable stakeholders, the people who use our services, we are in a much better position to successfully deliver services that will meet both the ongoing and emerging needs of those who we work alongside and future people seeking our support.
Our workforce, both in operational settings supporting people directly in our services and our central support staff, work in collaboration to ensure that the commitment and dedication to service user leadership is embedded into the cultural life of the organisation. This approach will support Together in meeting our service user leadership ambitions:-
Our values at Together are at the core of how we approach our work, whether in frontline services or central support services. In addition, Together has developed a set of service user leadership principles that compliment our values and hold equal importance in underpinning the work that we do.
- Our Model of Peer Support at Together is a prime example of service user leadership in practice. To find out more you can read about our peer support model, or to read about how that is applied in our services go to peer support in practice.
- The National Service User Steering Group (NSG) has been a part of Together for Mental Wellbeing since 2014 and continues to grow and develop in the present day. to learn about the NSG and its members please click here.
- The Together Service User Leadership Grant Scheme is also a fantastic opportunity for any person using our services, volunteers or staff members to apply for a grant that directly supports the implementation or development of service user leadership locally. This could be through developing a project that amplifies the voices of people with lived experience, or an opportunity that supports people using our services to develop skills or become more integrated into their local communities.
If you would like to find out more information about service user leadership at Together, please contact:-
Head of Service User Leadership
Together for Mental Wellbeing
52 Walnut Tree Walk
Tel: 07566 783229