Participation Post Issue 1

What is participation?

People participation is about us all working together. It is about listening to and embracing the expertise of all people with lived experience as equal and valued partners in driving the design and development of better mental health services.  


By working together, we will be able to provide the best possible mental health services for all. We know that when people who use services are involved in decision making and are enabled to drive change and developments, care becomes responsive and meaningful to those who need it.

Meet Emma

“Hi everyone, I’m Emma, I am a service user, and I’ve been involved in participation for around seven years. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I am currently the editor for The Participation Post and we would love more people to get involved.” Please contact Sophie Bagge.

“Some of the participation opportunities I’ve been involved in have included interviewing people for roles within the Trust, being involved in youth groups to help create change within our particular service, attending steering groups for various projects in NSFT, helping shape research, presenting at international conferences and becoming a service user governor.

“These opportunities have benefited me in my recovery. It has made me feel valued and like my voice was being heard. I’ve seen many positive changes from being a part of all of these participation opportunities. Staff really value our opinions and ideas. I highly recommend getting involved in any and all opportunities that are available that you feel passionate about.”


Ways to get involved

We would love to know how you would like to be involved in participation and we will incorporate any support or training you may need. Below are just some of the ways to get involved:

Help choose the staff you would like to see working in our Trust

Be a part of groups of people who select and interview staff for all positions within our Trust. A flexible and on-going way to get involved.

Contact Dawn Edwards


Virtual online workshops

These can be one-to-one conversations or providing comments via email, text or on our website to help us work together to develop better participation and ways of working.

Let us know how you would like participation in our Trust to grow and develop.

Contact Steve Clark


Creativity for Change group

Help develop a new group sharing how we use art to support our own mental health. A combination of peer support, a shared love of art and working together.

Contact Sophie Bagge 


Restrictive interventions

Work with our Quality Improvement team to create innovative resources around restrictive interventions.



Words of support

NSFT’s People Participation Leads have just taken delivery of a set of postcards to keep in touch with service users and carers.

The postcards, a set of bright, colourful and uplifting artwork, have been designed by service users within the Trust.

They will be sent out to people who use our services and carers as a way of introducing the PPLs and their role and will encourage those who use Trust services to become engaged in Trust activities. The cards will be also available from reception areas across the Trust.

PPL Steve Clark said: “We know that making decisions and shaping services collectively leads to better choices and outcomes for our service users, so we want to keep in touch with them, their carers and families through as many channels as possible.”

Senior PPL Sophie Bagge added: “Both designers have done an amazing job. These will give us another nice way of staying connected.”

Artist Chloe said: “I use art as a distraction, it helps my mental health. I have my own positive pen-pal group, we send each other positive mail, then when the post is delivered in the morning people have a positive message to start their day.”


COVID-19: Here’s a reminder of 10 top tips for coping with the loneliness, stress and anxiety of isolation

Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important while isolating. There are many things that you can do to manage the feelings of loneliness anxiety and uncertainty. 

1. Stay connected with people 

Reach out and chat to others: phone, text, email, write or video call.

2. Talk about your worries

It’s normal to feel a bit worried, scared or helpless. Share your concerns with others you trust.

3. Get into a new daily routine

Write a plan for your day/week, and set yourself some simple goals.

4. Look after your body

Try to eat healthily, drink enough water and exercise.

5. Stay on top of difficult feelings

Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your actions and responses, who you speak to and where and how often you get information.

6. Try not to stay glued to the news

Aim to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the COVID pandemic.

7. Carry on doing things you enjoy

Try to focus on your favourite hobby or explore a new one.

8. Take time to relax

Try deep breathing, yoga or mindful meditation.

9. Look after your sleep

Try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern.

10. Keep your mind active

Read, write, play games, do crosswords, whatever works for you.


Spotlight on: Maternal Mental Health Services

NSFT has been awarded national funding to develop a new maternal mental health service to care for women who have experienced traumatic births, tokophobia or bereavement or who are not living with their baby. 

We have been engaging with people with lived experience, specifically those who have experienced birth trauma or bereavement, and collaborating with NHS and other third sector organisations. 

The first stakeholder and engagement events took place in December. The expert by experience listening event was well attended and we used this opportunity to ask people about referrals, where they’d feel comfortable accessing this kind of service and what could have helped more in their own experiences.

Please look out for further opportunities to get involved or contact Jodie Butcher, People Participation Lead for Specialist Services


Contact us

If would like more information about participation, please get in touch with our Senior People Participation Lead Sophie Bagge on 07785 693984 or email


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