Sunderland Mental Health User Voice (SMHUV) has run as a voice for local mental health service users since 2009. Over the course of that time our Development Workers achieved lots of great things, including a conference to look at how the local Crisis Team supported users of their service, and the development of a feedback form enabling local service users to flag up issues they had with services they accessed which could then be fed up to commissioners with a view to improving service delivery.

In the last two years the outgoing Development Worker, Tony Walsh, built strong links with Sunderland People First and Time to Change leading to some fantastic work around challenging the stigma of having a mental health condition and a learning disability. Tony also played a very active role in supporting Sunderland Recovery College including the establishment of a service user involvement group within the college. Tony leaves behind a service user engagement network that he worked hard to establish in partnership with workers from the statutory and voluntary sector. Hopefully this network will act as a vehicle to make Sunderland mental health service users’ voices heard in the absence of any independent service user organisation.