Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research

February 16, 2015
by Alexandra Thornton

New addition to the team!

We’re very pleased to announce that SUGAR now has its own administrator! David has worked for East London NHS Foundation Trust and Mind, and we’re all really excited about this new development for the group.

David has experience of being a service user himself and also working with other service users at Mind. Last year he set up, and now facilitates a group for service users who have had in the past, or are still having, problems with substance misuse and mental health illness.

David is extremely passionate in feeling that all service users have their voices heard and about challenging the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction in society. David said “In my opinion, stigma is something that needs to be urgently addressed, and service user involvement and the work of SUGAR is an important way in which we can educate people of the facts and not the myths that are often portrayed about people with mental illness and addiction problems. I am looking forward to working on this exciting SUGAR project and meeting all of its members in due course.

Welcome to the team David!


February 5, 2015
by Alexandra Thornton

Your dose of SUGAR for January, and a sweetener for February!

After a lovely break for Christmas, during which we hung up our research hats for an afternoon and went out to enjoy a meal together, it was back to business in January with three very different projects to consult on. All of our visiting researchers came from East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), and are based at the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Newham, which is part of the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine.


First, we welcomed PhD student Sophie Walsh, who is developing an app-based wellbeing intervention for people living with depression or anxiety. The group discussed the basics of what they thought would, and would not be helpful features of such an app, and thought about what kinds of groups may benefit from using it.


Dr Domenico Giacco, a psychiatrist interested in improving the experience of involuntarily admitted service users asked for SUGAR’s views on a proposed intervention, and Dr Victoria Bird asked us to examine draft interview questions for a large Europe-wide project exploring different models of care delivery. There were lots of views expressed, particularly around the experience of involuntarily detained service users, which Domenico said “further increased my confidence that the topic of my proposal is of importance and I received many helpful suggestions on which I will capitalise whilst revising the application”.


The schedule for our next meeting on the 26th February has already been set. Dr Rose Thompson, a researcher based at ELFT/QMUL, is coming to obtain some input from SUGAR on her proposed project, which aims to explore how the ethical issues faced by workers hoping to support service users to develop close, supportive relationships may be managed, which is sure to turn up some interesting discussions.


We’re also going to take some time to plan a few bits for the future, before hearing from Dr Chris Flood. Chris is a mental health nurse at the School of Health Sciences, City University London, with close links to ELFT. He’s looking to gather the thoughts of SUGAR about the merits of his proposed project, which will explore the effects of violent assaults at work on mental health workers. Chris is particularly keen to get SUGAR’s views on whether increasing our knowledge in this area will positively benefit service users and carers.