Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research

SUGAR meets MindTech – Trip to Nottingham


At the crack of dawn on a fresh spring morning in March, SUGAR members assembled over a cup of coffee in St Pancras International train station, London, ready for a trip out of the Big Smoke up to Sherwood Country. The SUGAR members were Jay, Michael and Mandy, alongside David (SUGAR administrator) and Sally (Research Fellow). This was a greatly anticipated trip after acceptance of generous invite from Lucy Simons and Nick Shelley from the MindTech Reference Group.

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MindTech are a group based at the University of Nottingham who are interested in the technology that can now be used in the treatment of mental health. They wanted to know how we run our group as they want to have similar service user input advising on the research.

MindTech got in touch with SUGAR, inviting us to speak on how our group works. On the 18th March 2015, SUGAR went to the University of Nottingham to meet the members of the MindTech Reference Group (Michael).

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Lucy Simons, a Research Fellow in the Institute of Mental Health, introduced us to some of the projects that MindTech are advising on, such as ‘The Big White Wall‘ grant application, and introduced us to the themes within their research stream. These are: dementia, mood disorders (such as depression and anxiety) and neurodevelopmental disorders (such as Tourette Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) (Sally).

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We presented how SUGAR works and a couple of members of our group, Jay and Mandy, spoke about what SUGAR meant to them. I spoke about our booklet, and about the NPNR conference at the University of Warwick last year (Michael).

SUGAR members spoke about the establishment of the group, training and development, projects that SUGAR have advised on, and our publications and conference presentations.  Jay and Mandy gave an excellent overview of how the different skills of the SUGAR members are used to support the group dynamics and develop a better understanding of how mental health should be researched with user involvement.  Jay was instrumental in bringing the two groups together through her contact with a member of MindTech (Iain).

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Nick Shelley, Chair of MindTech, gave the SUGAR members some feedback on the fantastic work they’d been doing, saying that the work was “inspirational”.

Apart from giving us all the valuable information about your activities, you showed us how well you work as a group. As well as getting great results, you obviously have a lot of fun – that can’t be bad!

Throughout the visit Michael (SUGAR’s resident artist) was scribbling away adding to his portfolio of SUGAR related artwork. Some of these pictures are displayed within this blog.

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