UK Community-led Health Initiatives & Resources


  • Altogether Better;  Health Champions Programme


  • College of Medicine Innovation Network


  • Communities of Health in East London


  • Community Integrated Care;  A national not for profit social and health care provider


  • Compassion Circles Videos   Learning resources


  • International Futures Forum


  • Living Medicine  Using plants and herbs for health. 


  • NESTA People Powered Health    Recognising people as assets.  Building on people's capabilities.  Promoting mutuality and reciprocity.  Developing peer support networks .  Breaking down barriers between professionals and users.  Facilitating rather than delivering.                                                                        NESTA project: Collective Intelligence: Evidence based activism in Patients’ Organisations


  • Open Minds Alliance  Connecting with people  Open Minds Alliance CIC was formally established in 2010. The organisation emerged from a collaboration between Dr Alys Cole-King, liaison psychiatrist and specialist in suicide prevention and Gavin Peake-Jones a specialist in implementing transformation in organisations.


  • People’s Health Movement


  • Seeds for Change  a network of activist training co-ops providing training and workshops on group and campaign skills. They support people who want to make our world a better and more sustainable place


  • Sustain Care - Our Medicine   Practical guides to self care techniques. Self management approaches for living with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Opportunities to interact with a community of people looking after themselves and their loved ones. Self care diaries and more.


  • The Commons Network   (European Initiative) The Commons Network works on promoting access to knowledge and other social and ecological causes from the perspective of the commons.


  • Well London   Well London  engages and empowers people to build and strengthen the foundations of good health and well-being in their communities.


  • Your Space  Building safe spaces for talking and listening together.   Tackling the social and emotional barriers that keep people isolated and alone


  • INUF-Independent Newham Users Forum (Mental Health) The Independent Newham Users Forum (INUF) is an independent user-led mental Health charity. Their goal is to support and assist our members on the long road to recovery. They provide a safe haven for all at Ithaca House and run various events and activities to help boost confidence and skills for all our members. The atmosphere is informal and relaxed making INUF an inviting place for all to use on a daily basis to socialise, find a voice and improve their every day quality of life.


  • ASK – the Newham Service User Involvement Project, is a community platform for people who have direct experience of mental health services to inform and influence policy and practice in Newham. ASK provides a variety of user-directed training and activities designed to assist mental recovery and wellness. Hestia is the charity that facilitates and hosts the ASK service.


  • Active Plus is a Community Interest Company established in 2011. They use the skills, experience and expertise of injured military veterans to deliver unique programmes that build confidence, motivation and self-belief, unlocking the potential of participants, all of whom are from vulnerable or potentially vulnerable groups.

    They currently deliver courses and activities for people who are unemployed, older people who are isolated and young people at risk of leaving school without qualifications or work. They have grown geographically from our base in Cornwall to deliver across Devon, Somerset and Dorset.


  • Independent Practitioners Network   The Independent Practitioners Network offers an authentic model of best practice accountability through open, committed relationships with peers. We are a nationwide, network of practitioners of equal status rather than a hierarchical organisation. We work together in linked groups to offer each other mutual support and challenge. We believe that high quality ethical practice is grounded in honesty, integrity and transparency. We welcome counsellors, psychotherapists, educators, growth workers and allied practitioners.


  • Maggie’s Centres   Feeling of homeliness centred around a kitchen table; Wide spread use of art work; Calm almost sacred feel; They are cancer and drop in centres  designed by leading architects. They are like guest-houses that invite mutuality in the encounter where people give and receive.  Each centre is unique but they all have 3 features in common.


  • The Recovery Approach as pioneered in Scotland.  Recognition that medication can be useful especially short term. Longer term recovery requires that people find their own narrative for why they became  unwell and create an outlet to discover a deeper meaning and value in their lives.  People have found music, art, poetry, journaling, wilderness experience, gardening and all kinds of craft activities useful in re-discovering and re-inventing a sense of themselves. People in recovery can become peer workers for others. Restoring coherence in life, restoring meaning, purpose and wellness feeling rather than fixing worn out parts.


  • Horseback UK   They practice a whole person approach for soldiers who lost limbs. Through their riding activities they help soldiers to recover a sense of self worth. Sitting high up above the ground helps them to feel valued and to be seen. Their work addresses the existential need for value and purpose in life, particularly in the face of the catastrophic loss of limbs, sight or hearing.


  • Chaplaincy Listeners Network in Scotland.  They spend time in primary care settings and simply listen to patients stories. Their work eases the pressure on talking therapies services, on GPs and reduces the need for drugs. 


  • Values based reflective practice developed presently in Scotland.  This initiative intends to grow reflective practitioners that can make difficult decisions by being more clear about what informs their decisions i.e their own likes and dislikes or fears. Rather than cajoling and chasing poor practice, it is designed to enable staff to do what they want to do in most cases which is to provide great care (see this idea also mentioned in  ‘Intelligent Kindness’ by Ballant and Campling).


  • Ayrshire Kitbag    A set of resources to promote psychological capacity in times of radical change. It is a practical resource to develop skills for selfcare and mindfulness which has been designed by NHS staff. It can be used in various settings incl team meetings and individually to provide emotional and spiritual (in a non- religious sense) support.  Shifting the culture of healthcare so that it can again fulfil our deeper intentions is invigorating and fulfilling. But it will also demand a lot from us. It can start to ask too much. We must look after ourselves and each other and the kitbag can provide brilliant support.


  • SHINE   Good ideas only become good practice when there’s an opportunity to develop, test and gather evidence to support them. That’s why the Health Foundation has developed the Shine programme. Their annual Shine programme focuses on aspects of healthcare quality that reflect the key issues facing the UK health service. In 2012 the challenge was to find new approaches to delivering healthcare that aimed to achieve one of the following: • supporting patients to be active partners in their own care • improving patient safety • improving quality while reducing costs.   The ultimate aim is to transform the culture, to free up resources sunk in maintaining today’s system to flow into growing a system fit for tomorrow.


  • WEL in Nairn, Scotland - with Dr.David O’Reilly. The Wellness Enhancement Learning.   Current versions are: The GeneralWEL programme  for anyone wanting to tackle health problems and build wellbeing; TheWEL for people with CFS/ME;  The PrimaryWEL ,  and The StaffWEL for professional health care workers.The WEL course journey encourages us to learn how to draw on our own inner natural strengths that grow helpful change, wellbeing and any healing and recovery that is possible.  The key is learning to create the conditions that enhance this wellbeing - and in turn the key to that is our own self-care.There are sections on making change, nutrition, on relaxation and meditation, plus practical ways to change the relationship to our thoughts and feelings that help reduce stress and suffering and enhance wellbeing. It considers a similar mindful way of caring for our body. Most of all it explores what it takes to be able to apply such changes in a sustained way in our daily life .


  • Blackthorn Centre and Trust in Barming, outside Maidstone, which has pioneered helping people to release their own "self-sustaining capacity" in the context of living with chronically painful conditions. The centre itself is a charitable organisation that enjoys a lot of local support.


  • Kairos Project The Blackthorn project has been taken up in Greenwich, working alongside a GP led pain clinic, and is called the Kairos project.   Patients are assessed by a GP for their willingness to engage with the therapies and voluntary work on offer. The latter includes craft-work and a garden that volunteers created next to the health centre. These volunteers are the very patients who for years were incapable of doing anything much because of their pain and were frequent surgery attenders. Now you see them dig earth, plant vegetables etc. They also come together as a community - organising events.


  • Bromley by Bow Health Centre. Bromley-by-Bow, in the East End of London. It was founded by Andrew Mawson in 1984 with the aim of transforming the local community. Over the years, the Centre has grown to encompass a GP surgery where Sam Everington is an enthusiastic advocate of the Centre, church, nursery, children's centre, community facilities and a cafe. It is the site of the UK's first Healthy Living Centre, and around 2,000 people use the Centre each week.  In addition to team members such as psychologists, nurses, counsellors, and phlebotomists, the centre also houses artists, stonemasons, gardeners, and stained-glass makers.[2] The Bromley by Bow Centre works in partnership with Poplar HARCA to deliver community regeneration work in its local neighbourhood.


  • Open Dialogue Model    Open Dialogue is a model of mental health care pioneered in Finland that has since been taken up in a number of countries around the world, including much of the rest of Scandinavia, Germany and some US states. It involves a psychologically consistent family and social network approach, where all staff receive training in family therapy and related psychological skills, and all treatment is carried out via whole system/network meetings including the patient. It is a quite different approach to much of UK service provision, yet it is being discussed with interest by several Trusts around the country. Part of the reason is the striking data from nonrandomised trials so far eg. 72% of those with first episode psychosis treated via an Open Dialogue approach returned to work or study within 2 yrs, despite significantly lower rates of medication and hospitalisation compared to TAU. By making patients, their families, social networks and fellow peers fundamental to the provision of care ­ with empowerment at the heart of the therapeutic process ­ service users may feel more comprehensively supported and have a better experience of their healthcare altogether. In addition, it may lead to a longer term reduction in chronicity and dependence on services. Several NHS Trusts in the UK ­ including North East London (NELFT), North Essex, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire, Bristol and Kent & Medway ­ are considering setting up pilot Peer­supported Open Dialogue services over the next couple of years (where peer workers are also trained in the methodology to act as integral members of the team), in order to evaluate them and deepen the evidence base, to enable more wide scale take up, should the outcome improvement and cost reductions remain consistent.


  • The College of Mindful Clinicians   The College of Mindful Clinicians is an association of healthcare professionals with a commitment to cultivating compassion through the regular practice of mindfulness meditation and mindful living. As relationships are at the heart of , such regular practices can be a vital aspect of professional development.  that the degree of mindfulness a clinician possesses can have a substantial impact on the therapeutic relationships he or she is able to foster, while at the same time significantly reducing chances of burnout.  The College helps clinicians from all branches of healthcare learn about mindfulness and initiate a regular personal practice through a series of Mindfulness Based Professional Development retreats. Feedback from the retreats is   and a follow up study has shown increased empathy and reduced burnout among those who attend the retreats - as followed up in the weeks and months after it.


  • Well London  Well London is a unique multi-sectoral alliance between seven organisations  funded by the  Greater London Authority since 2006.  It delivers a new radical, community action health and well-being programme.   Well London has been delivered in 20 of London’s most deprived neighbourhoods targeting a total population of 35,000.   It provides an evidence based framework for integrating work with residents, volunteers and local organisations to build capacity for community engagement and action to improve health and well-being across all communities in London. Community development principles  are embedded within the model and its an effective mechanism to: 1. Involve communities to understand their needs and develop solutions. 2. Facilitate health behaviour change. 3. Inform and integrate service delivery. 


  •  NAViGO   Moving forward with health and care services by being part of the local community in North East Lincolnshire. NAViGO Community Interest Company is a not for profit social enterprise that emerged from the NHS, to run all local mental health and associated services in North East Lincolnshire. They have all the services you would expect of a MH provider including acute facilities, but also specialist services such as systemic family therapy, DBT team, highly developed employment and training services running their own and other peoples ancillary services (catering, cleaning, maintenance etc) creating jobs and training for people with MH problems, eating disorder and many more. They designed the services in conjunction with people who use them and as such many are bespoke. They have a voting membership giving service users and carers equal rights to staff.  Against a background of national service cuts, by working smarter, reducing waste, ensuring everyone relates directly to those who use the services and are therefore more efficient, having less managers and bureaucracy, they have managed (in their first year as a social enterprise) to not only save significant sums required, but also generate a surplus to reinvest back into our services.




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