What we do
The SUN Network are a community interest organisation here to ensure that adults in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough who may need or use mental health or drug and alcohol addiction services are influencing how services are developed and delivered. We amplify your voice and enable you to be heard.
How we do it
We have a small friendly team that support people with lived experience to be involved in opportunities to have their say and work alongside mental health or drug and alcohol professionals to improve local services. For more information on what these opportunities are please get in touch.
Lois.firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text/whatsapp 07712 358 172
Why we do it
People deserve to have the best services and support at the time that they need it. No-one is better placed to say what mental health or drug and alcohol services are needed and if they work well or need improvement than those that use or need the support. We are passionate about the voices of local people being heard and respected.
The impact of our work
Just a few examples of the impact of our work.
As a result of people being involved in our work, there have been numerous changes and improvements to local mental health services.
We helped Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT ) and Change Grow Live (CGL) hire a new Substance Misuse and Mental Health lead by supporting a panel of people with lived experience to interview candidates.
We facilitated the co-production of eating disorder leaflets and support and guidance literature that can be found on the Keep Your Head website.
We support people with lived experience of drug and alcohol challenges to tell their story in our training delivered to every new police cadet in the county. An empowering experience for the people telling their story and a powerful experience for the police cadets hearing first hand from people with lived experiences.
We also co-produced our own involvement leaflets and this has helped us to form an Involvement Forum, a panel of people with lived experience of mental health and/or addiction challenges to be closely involved in our work.
Chair of Directors
A word from the chair
I would like to share some reflections from my perspective on 2022/2023 in The SUN Network.
I have been very proud of the continued commitment of the team in giving a voice to people with mental health and/or substance misuse issues with the ultimate aim of enabling service providers to make improvements to what they do, wherever possible.
During the year we have been commissioned to expand our remit and work with older people with mental health conditions across the area. This is new territory for us and we have needed to think about new ways of engaging with this disparate group who can have so many different mental health issues from anxiety and depression to severe dementias.
Mental health supported housing
Our other work has continued with a combination of specific projects and ongoing collection of service users’ views. It is great that in the year we heard from no less than 926 people against our internal target of 550. Of particular interest to me has been our project on people’s experience of mental health supported accommodation which has informed the Mental Health Housing Strategy currently in development in the local authorities. As far as I’m concerned this work is not finished until we can see supported housing made safer and better adjusted to the needs of each tenant – as recommended by the residents themselves.
What else is going on?
Other developments of note during the year include:
- The introduction of an impact log have too many requests for our involvement than too few
- A broad range of agencies taking up our offer of co-production training for their staff
- A new Involvement Forum of people with lived experience
- Lois’ co-leadership of the Adult Co-production Collaborative with Anna Tuke from CPFT, championing best practice in co-production and working with great patience to embed it in the business of the new Accountable Business Unit for Mental Health Learning Disabilities and Autism in the Integrated Care System
- External review of our governance arrangements through the Good To Go programme (currently in progress)
And there is good news…
I am interested in the whole subject of what works best in terms of implementing change in a complex organisation like an NHS Trust. For that reason I was very struck by the fact that we get more positive feedback than negative from the people with lived experience who we hear from. (The split last year was 285 positive and 205 negative). Sometimes voice organisations can be perceived as negatively biased. But when asked about the key themes in what we hear from people, it is just as valid to report positives as negatives. Indeed, staff often find it easier to do more of good things rather than always feeling challenged to address problems. I hope we can build on this approach in the coming year.
Finally, I would like to put on record my personal thanks to all those who have engaged with us to share their experiences in various ways, and our team of really dedicated staff. In terms of the Board last year we said goodbye to Kim Laidler and welcomed Szara Coote. My thanks go to Kim for all she contributed when with us and to Szara for bringing her passion for co-production to the work that we do. Last but not least, my special thanks go to Lois for her outstanding leadership through the year.
The SUN Network board of directors is made up entirely of people with lived experience of mental health or addiction challenges.
We are always looking to strengthen our board and invite people to think about whether they feel they could add value to our work by being a part of our board.
Please contact Lois or Jonathan for an informal chat.
The SUN Network co-designed Co-production training to help people understand what Co-production is and how Co-production, Collaboration and Involvement differ. We deliver this training across the county both online and face to face. This training as well as being co-designed is also co-delivered with facilitators with lived experience of mental health challenges.
All too often, people believe that they are co-producing when in fact they are not. They are either collaborating or involving, and we want to help them understand co-production and create meaningful co-production opportunities for local people to shape and influence service delivery.
Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge Recovery Service, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust, Rethink Carers, Hunts Forum, Richmond Fellowship, Healthwatch, Greater Peterborough Network, and more. The people with lived experience have come from all over the county and brought a wealth of experience with them. By working together to better understand co-production, we have been able to help services and commissioners know when they are co-producing and when they are collaborating or involving. People with lived experience will also be able to recognise if an opportunity is co-production or involvement. This will help the local system to co-produce more effectively and meaningfully and welcome more people with lived experience to co-produce with us. That way we can all as a county reap the benefits of co-production and enjoy better service provision. We have delivered our training to commissioners, staff and people with lived experience of mental health and/or addiction challenges. The staff have come from the Integrated Care System.
Marketing and Content Creation Manager
This year I have been working hard with a company called ReciteMe to support people with additional needs to be able to read or hear the content of Keep Your Head. This work involved adding in a toolbar onto the website.
Reciteme gives people the ability to have the website read aloud to them, translated into over 100 different languages, transformed into new colours and styles to make it more readable, it also has a ruler, a screen mask, a magnifier, margins and a dictionary function to help those who may struggle with reading content online. The installation of the Reciteme toolbar spanned across several weeks.
This work has resulted in more people being able to use the site and find what they’re looking for.
Between January and April there has been
512 pages viewed using the toolbar
894 uses of the screen reader (809 clicks on English, 44 clicks on Croatian, 35 clicks on Bulgarian and 6 clicks on Slovak)
167 uses of the translation tool (64 Croatian, 19 Aymara, 15 Bengali, 8 Slovak, 6 English-US)
139 uses of the styling tool (Changing the background colour, font-colour, etc)
50 uses of the reading aids tools.
It’s been a pleasure working to add this toolbar to Keep Your Head and seeing how it has helped so many people.
Facilitating a panel of people with lived experience to interview candidates applying for the role of co-occurring conditions – substance misuse and mental health lead. A joint role between Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT) and Change Grow Live to support people who have both mental health and drug and/or alcohol challenges.
Feedback from local people with lived experience of both drug/alcohol challenges and mental health challenges has been that they really struggle to find holistic support that treats their challenges, or services that work together to support both sets of challenges at the same time. It was really important to hear these voices throughout the process of hiring someone to undertake this role.
There were two candidates interviewed for this role and the interview panel consisting of CPFT and CGL staff had a very different view to the lived experience panel. The lived experience panel were able to offer constructive and reasoned feedback for their decision, and the staff panel decided to go with the decision made by the lived experience panel. This was a really positive example of how including people with lived experience can highlight perspectives not previously taken into account. The SUN Network gained feedback on how the experience was for the people with lived experience and the staff, and you can read their feedback and how valuable they all thought the process was here. Lived Experience Interview Panel 360 degree feedback_.pdf
The SUN Network along with people with lived experience of Severe Mental Illness (SMI) worked together to co-produce a Personalised Care and Support Plan (PCSP) also referred to a plan, the aim of which is to help individuals with SMI to achieve their physical health goals such as stopping smoking, being more active, or weight management with the support of local services who can use the plan to record appointments and notes.
People with SMI are sadly more at risk of experiencing other co-morbidities such as smoking, heart disease, diabetes or weight issues. The plan is part of a ‘Personalised Care’ pilot project to see if having a plan that individuals can manage and take to appointments with them can help them achieve their physical health goals. The hope is that it always means people don’t have to keep retelling their story at each new appointment as it is already in the plan.
The original plan was quite lengthy so a shortened version has been introduced to offer people a choice. Individuals who have used it have reported that they like having something they can take along to appointments and that it helps them remember things. Unfortunately, even though the premise is personalised care, we are finding that having a paper version doesn’t ‘fit the system’ that is currently in use. We hope that with the technology available that this issue can be overcome and that the ‘system’ can work around individuals and not the other way round to make care truly personalised.
Mental Health Supported Housing
As a team, working with Cambridgeshire County Council, we completed a 360 review speaking with 68 people, 37 of which were residents. We visited all of the Sanctuary Support Housing sites in Cambridge and Huntingdon and spoke to as many residents as we could. The feedback was very insightful and extremely helpful in allowing us to create a report that reflected the needs of the services, as well as highlighting how incredible the staff are, and how hard they work.
The feedback from residents, staff and collaborators will inform and influence future commissioning.
Since receiving the report, Ian and Guy, the mental health commissioners at Cambridgeshire County Council have worked hard to thoroughly assess the information within it and create feedback in the form of a ‘You Said, We Listened’ document, which has been distributed to all sites. This document highlights the key themes within the report as actions for change and how they intend to address each point, some of which are instant changes, and others to be included in ongoing tender negotiations.
Furthermore, The SUN Network have been asked to be included on the panel for the retendering process for the support housing service, as a representation of individuals with lived experience.
Access to support for Gypsy, Roma and traveller Communities
Over the last year I have been working alongside the Cambridge County Council Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) Health Team, joining them at their weekly drop in, at Cottenham. During these sessions I have been establishing trust and building relations with the GRT community, to enable them to share their experiences of the mental health challenges they have experienced. This has helped identity the gaps, barriers and challenges this community experience.
Finding out what help and support the GRT community feel they need, to empower them to seek and receive the help and support appropriate for them.
This has resulted in a report, written in November 2022. This work has led me on to further work with other ethnic minority communities to hear their experiences of accessing or trying to access mental health support. It has also helped lead to the commitment for a dedicated GRT mental health support worker to work alongside the community and help them access the right support when it is needed.
If you would like to feed back on a service or share your experience, or would like to be involved in co-production opportunities to have your say please do contact us for a chat.
Call/Text/Whatsapp: 07712 358172 or follow us on social media to hear more @SUNnetworkCambs