Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research

What is SUGAR?


“Nothing about us, without us”

SUGAR (Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research) was founded in 2009 by Professors Alan Simpson and Len Bowers, and their colleagues in mental health nursing research at City University London. The researchers were keen to further develop service user and carer involvement across their programme of research and build long-term collaborative research relationships with members of local communities in east London.

They wanted to ensure that a range of voices from those with lived experience of mental health services was heard in a systematic way by those conducting research into mental health nursing and services. Inspired by the motto ‘Nothing about us, without us’, SUGAR was created. The group currently consists of 13 service users and carers and meets with various mental health researchers once a month. Training and development is provided and meetings are facilitated by members of the research team.

SUGAR members discuss and contribute to various aspects of research projects and the research process and have also written journal papers and given conference workshops, presentations and posters.

SUGAR has hosted a number of international visitors and recently won a national award for public engagement by universities. They hope to inspire other researchers to follow their lead and add SUGAR to their work.

SUGAR’s services are available to researchers working within East London NHS Foundation Trust, City University London, and those collaborating on projects with City University London academics, subject to prior discussion and arrangement with Prof Alan Simpson.

If you would like to learn more about SUGAR, or are interested in working with us, please contact us or follow us on Twitter.



Twitter: @SugarSolution

Prof Alan Simpson


Twitter: @cityalan


Acknowledgements and disclaimer

The SUGAR project was commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) scheme (RP-PG-0707-10081) . This grant funded a programme of research led by Professor Len Bowers, entitled ‘Reducing Conflict and Containment in Psychiatry’. SUGAR was established in 2009 and is facilitated by Professor Alan Simpson.  From October 2014, SUGAR will be supported jointly by the School of Health Sciences, City University London and East London NHS Foundation Trust. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health, City University London or East London NHS Foundation Trust.

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