NSUN currently hosts the Survivor Researcher Network (SRN), a network for service users and survivors involved in research, and North East Together (NEt), a regional lived experience network for the North East of England.
Survivor Researcher Network
The Survivor Researcher Network (SRN) was originally formed after the ‘Strategies for Living’ Mental Health Foundation project (1997-2003) and was hosted by the Mental Health Foundation until 2011 when it moved to NSUN.
The network aims to provide mental health service users and survivors who are involved and interested in research with a forum for networking, sharing information and supporting each other.
The Survivor Researcher Network:
- acknowledges and promotes the diversity of experiences, identities and backgrounds of survivor researchers
- challenges the marginalisation of some communities in mental health research (including user-led research), in terms of access to resources, participation and leadership
- promotes the evidence based on lived experience as fundamental to the knowledge base on mental health, human rights and social justice
- challenges the current hierarchy of knowledge that exists in mental health research and promote alternatives to the dominant medical model
- sets standards and promote good practice in user/survivor research in mental health
In 2013 a survey of SRN members helped to formulate draft aims and objectives and potential work of the new research network.
The findings of the survey are available here:
In 2016, members of the SRN met for a seminar entitled ‘Reclaiming, Challenging and Reviving Survivor Research’.
The event was funded by the Sociological Review Foundation and Middlesex University and created a space for researchers whose voices have not historically been included to consider issues around survivor research, whiteness and heteronormativity.
Following on from this event we recruited nine volunteers from across the country to join the SRN working group.
The current group members are:
- Peter Beresford (East Anglia)
- Deborah Bhatti (North West)
- Sarah Carr (London and South East/West Midlands)
- Erika Cule (London and South East)
- Holly Dale (North West)
- Garry Ellison (London and South East)
- Stephen Jeffreys (West Midlands)
- Jacqui Lovell-Norton (Wales/North East)
- Karen Machin (North West)
- Dina Poursanidou (London and South East)
- Sonia Thompson (East Midlands)
Building on the previous work of the SRN, the working group looks specifically at developing a values-based framework for the network, identifying shared values, addressing issues of inclusivity and considering how we work with values in conflict. The group also considers next steps for the SRN, including options for practical research projects and funding opportunities.
In 2018, SRN published its manifesto, which sets out the background and context to survivor and service user research and our aims and values as a network
SRN produces a bulletin of research opportunities, events and articles every two months. Information is also now shared via the SRN Twitter account at @SurvivorResNet.
In June 2019, SRN prepared and presented two posters at the NADSN (National Association of Disabled Staff Networks) & LGBT+NoN (LGBT+ Network of Networks) Joint intersectionality Conference in Manchester. The posters focused on the SRN Manifesto and issues and barriers for survivor researchers in higher education.
Members of the Working Group have conducted an evaluation of the ‘service user and carer’ involvement in a large National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funded project entitled ‘The contribution of the voluntary sector to mental health crisis care in England’ in conjunction with With-You Consultancy.
During 2019-20, a number of Working Group members have been working on a chapter exploring aspects of survivor research and barriers to involvement and progression for the Routledge Handbook of Service User Involvement in Human Services Research and Education, edited by Peter Beresford and others.
In 2019, two SRN Working Group members gave a presentation on the SRN and their approach to survivor research at a two day international conference on in Vienna entitled “In the work of experience – Peer projects introduce themselves” and organised by Verein LOK Leben ohne Krankenhaus (Association LOK Living without Hospital). Another member facilitated a workshop together with a Norwegian service user researcher at a critical perspectives on mental health conference in Cork, Ireland. The workshop explored identity and employment struggles associated with being a service user researcher in academia. SRN continues to lobby research organisations and funders for opportunities for user-led research groups to apply for funding. SRN is represented at meetings of the Social Workers’ Union Austerity Action Group, the Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders and the Mental Health Qualitative Research Network.
If you would like to join the SRN mailing list and receive the bulletin, please complete the NSUN membership form here. If you are already a member of NSUN, then just drop us an email at email@example.com and we will add you to the mailing list.
For all other SRN enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
North East Together (NEt)
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@example.com or 07902403630.