Community Constellations

Community Constellations helps community-led groups to do what they do best – supporting people and building their communities. We work with partner organisations to create generative spaces in which user-led organisations can support each other and build for the future. Starting in 2021, we are working with our partners to produce reflective spaces and create resources for people involved in user-led organisations.

Ruairi White (ruairi.white@nsun.org.uk)

Senior Communities and Grants Manager


Community Constellations is a capacity-building project for the vibrant but precarious user-led and community-led sector. Through the programme, we support the work of user-led groups, particularly focusing on grassroots groups at the intersections of mental health, race, disability and queerness, who are doing things that bigger charities or statutory services can’t or won’t.

The project follows on from the NSUN Covid-19 Fund (NSUN’s first grants programme, which has now been followed by several others) and aims to support and network groups and organisations which support people living with mental ill health, distress or trauma to increase their connectivity and sustainability. Our capacity-building activities include commissioning member-led research projects, hosting projects and facilitating smaller networks, publishing joint open letters, amplifying member content, and running grants programmes and commissioning free training for user-led member groups.

This page contains our 2024 report, which evaluates our community- and capacity-building work, and programme resources and publications which may be useful to members.

Evaluation of NSUN’s capacity-building function (2024)

We published ‘Community Constellations: exploring NSUN’s role in capacity-building’ in June 2024. This report, written by NSUN’s Learning Partner Jodie Gow, answers key questions around our capacity- and community-building work, which aims to redistribute power and resource in mental health, and outlines learning frameworks to support future monitoring and evaluation work. A central aim of the learning activities that took place during this evaluation project with NSUN staff and members was to reflect on, share and articulate all that has been learned so far with, and from, NSUN members.

A screenshot of the title page of the report

Alternatively, click here to download a plaintext (Word doc) version of the report and here to download a plaintext (Word doc) version of the executive summary.


Programme resources and publications

Video resources

User-led groups are often formed organically and at a grassroots level, having to learn as they go when setting up and growing, and face the ‘hidden curriculum’ of forming, running and managing an organisation. There are several areas of support and knowledge that are needed and shared across groups, such as around funding, governance, and organisational structure. We commissioned a series of video resources by and for representatives of user-led groups to help share some of this knowledge. You can watch the videos here.

Shared learning sessions

We held three shared learning sessions with Switchboard, Taraki, and Make Space covering online peer support, safe virtual spaces in peer support, and navigating the topic of self-harm in online peer support spaces. You can watch recordings of the first two, and read a blog on the third, here.

Funding Grassroots Mental Health Work report

This report explores the ways that user-led mental health groups find it difficult to get funding to sustain themselves. It aims to support funders to resource these groups sustainably. Read the report, including our action points for funders, here.

Resources for funders

We have also produced resources aimed at funders wanting to fund – or improve their practice of funding – user-led work. This includes videos from members discussing “red flags” in funding and how to improve the offer, suggested reading including NSUN member blogs about the challenges of running user-led groups, and a podcast episode discussing what we learned from the NSUN Side by Side Fund. Browse the resources for funders here.

Member events and training

Part of our networking and capacity-building work is carried out through bringing members together at events and commissioning free places on training for user-led group NSUN members. We now host monthly themed Network Meetings. Previous training sessions have focussed on legal forms, safeguarding, trans awareness training, and facilitation. You can stay up to date with new events and training sessions via our members’ bulletin, which you receive after signing up as an NSUN member, or via our News & Events website area.

Blogs