So here we are at the end of another year for SUGAR, which has seen plenty of change. Since September 2014 we have had 10 meetings with 11 service users and carers’ attending. SUGAR have had over 20 different speakers who have wanted, and received, honest feedback on their projects. The group really have had an awful lot of positive responses from literally all of the speakers who have attended our meetings.
During the last year we have also had visitors from Belgium and Germany who have shown an interest in setting up their own version of SUGAR. This is of course a huge compliment to each and every member of SUGAR, as our guests saw how well we worked as a group and the respect that there is between us in the room, even when people are giving their own personal honest opinions about a topic.
Last September 8 SUGAR members and several staff gave a workshop presentation of our work at the 20th NPNR Conference at Warwick University, which was extremely well received. This workshop was repeated at the School of Health Sciences at City University London in January 2015 to a sell out crowd! This year we have had an abstract accepted to present a “SUGAR does Dragons’ Den” workshop at the NPNR Conference in Manchester and hope to take 11 – 12 SUGAR members to attend this leading two day research conference.
In February of this year David Thomas was appointed as the new SUGAR Administrator. Since then he has organised 6 meetings and said:
“ I am very much enjoying my time as the SUGAR administrator and am looking forward to attending my first NPNR Conference in September. The actual SUGAR meetings themselves have been of a very high standard and i have certainly learnt a lot from the group about research, as i had no real background in this area before joining. I myself am a service user, so have found the discussions and debates we have on various topics fascinating because i can relate to and hopefully contribute to the discussion quite a bit.
I’ve found the members of SUGAR all so friendly and welcoming, it really is like a big family. We all know how it feels to have bad days, weeks, months, and i think that is an important bond between us all. Sometimes Clinicians or even researchers into Mental Health may not be able to relate to us because they may never have experienced the true pain and utter despair mental illness can have on somebody.
Finally i’d just like to say a massive thank you to all the staff that work on the SUGAR project. They have been exceptionally welcoming of me into the team and i truly couldn’t ask to be working with better people.”
In April/May of this year SUGAR also recruited 4 new members, 3 service users and one carer. So far they have been to 2-3 meetings each but have been extremely positive and confident with their contributions in discussions and we are delighted to have them on board. It was in fact one of the new members, Joynal, who gave Julia Jones the idea for our Dragons’ Den workshop this year so they have all certainly made an instant and impressive impact.
SUGAR have also been invited to join other service user reference groups such as MindTech from Nottingham University and a group called NewMind from the University of Manchester.
So SUGAR shows no sign of slowing up or even flatlining. With new blood in the group and the members figures now up to 16, SUGAR is evolving as a group should and looking to all the exciting new things the group can do, rather than resting on our laurels we are expanding. With ever more interest from researchers wanting to present at our meetings we are getting booked up months in advance because word is spreading of our good work. SUGAR is going from strength to strength and shows it has a very bright future in front of it for a long time to come. Congratulations to all of the members who have made this year such a success!