North East together (NEt) is the Regional Network for people with lived experience of mental health conditions living in the North East of England.

Since our launch at a conference in April 2009 attended by over 150 of the region’s service users, carers and workers in the mental health field, we have carried out a variety of initiatives usually led by our members letting us know what our priorities should be. For example, our Welfare Reform Action Group was set up in response to the 2010 Coalition Government’s changes to the benefits system, and campaigned to highlight the injustices of Welfare Reform and advocated for a fairer system for all.

In the last few years, we have developed some strong relationships with the statutory sector, and in particular with Public Health England and The Northern Clinical Network. We have worked closely with these and other partners in various pieces of work on a regional level including engaging with local service users and carers about plans for smoke free hospitals across the Region’s two NHS Mental Health Trusts. We followed this with more partnership in developing ‘A Weight off Your Mind’, a regional plan to support people with mental health conditions and/or a learning disability in secondary services to lose/manage their weight.

Our involvement in ‘A Weight off Your Mind’ included holding eleven Focus Groups across the region over the period of three years looking at how best to support people with mental health conditions to lose weight. We consulted on what service users and carers thought of the first draft of the regional plan, designed case studies of people who used services and wanted to lose weight, and then looked at what the barriers to this were. Finally our Secretary presented this work at three conferences to develop, launch and implement the plan - not to mention North East together coming up with the name A Weight off Your Mind.

NEt continue to be involved with A Weight off Your Mind and have also in the past year worked alongside The Northern Clinical Network to hold four focus groups across the region to ask people with lived experience of mental health conditions what good Crisis Care would look like. The original plan once the focus groups were completed was to present our findings at The Region’s Crisis Care Concordats to influence better ways of working. However that phase of the work is currently on hold as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic and lockdown.

We are currently taking some time to work out how best to engage with our membership and the wider service user and carer communities across the region whilst lockdown continues and are in the process of applying for grants to support this work.

To find out more about NEt, please contact the coordinator, Mish Loraine: [email protected] or 07902403630.