Group using co-production to boost mental health support | Our latest updates

Group using co-production to boost mental health support

Safia from the Saturday Group at The Warren

This week at NHFT, we are celebrating our work in the area of co-production. 

For those who are not familiar with the term “co-production”,  this is when NHS services or teams work alongside people with lived experience of using that particular service, to either improve the service, make adaptations or develop new services. NHFT has been using co-production across services for almost ten years. By combining clinical expertise with the experiences of services users, the hope is that more patients and service users will have a positive experience receiving treatment at NHFT. This week, we will be sharing five different examples of how different service areas have used co-production to develop or improve services, and you will hear from those who have been involved.

A group of people who regularly meet-up to ‘inspire hope’ and support people with mental health challenges, say co-production has been a key to its success.

The Warren, a ‘crisis house’ in Northampton run by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT), has been hosting a popular ‘Saturday group’ – formed last year – which was borne out of a desire by people, who’ve used the service, to find a new way to continue to meet up, support each other, and help others.

The Warren is one of two crisis houses, which provides safe and ‘homely’ environments where people aged over 18 years old, needing urgent support with their mental health can stay for a few days and get round-the-clock support, without needing to go to hospital.

The ‘Saturday group’ provides an opportunity for former service users of The Warren to meet in a fun and social environment and play a pivotal role in shaping how the crisis house supports people.  

Crisis support worker at The Warren, Safia Raja, had the idea to set up the group and runs it, mostly in her own time.

Safia said: “At our first meeting, we had an amazing turn out. We decided there and then, we would be the change; we would bring in the ideas, be the volunteers, and give a bit of hope. We have achieved a great number of things including a reduction in crisis house admissions for our group members, a reduction in hospital admissions for group members, in increase in our volunteer numbers at the crisis house, as well as supporting individuals going on to peer support training. We have supported each other to go back to work, go into the community and hold our head up high when talking about mental health.”

As well as activities – including arts and crafts such as crochet, painting and bracelet making – the group uses the time to discuss the service, and suggest opportunities to make things better.

One project has involved creating a specialised workbook that includes coping skills and exercises to support users of the crisis house. Members of the group also represented The Warren at Northamptonshire’s Headfest event last year, who were there to answer questions about the crisis houses.

They have even held parties to celebrate the success of the Saturday group, as well as taking the Saturday group stall to events such as the Pavilion Umbrella fair, Wellingborough Christmas market, and Northampton University Mental Health Day selling crafts to raise money for the crisis houses.

A number of ideas have come out of the group, for example, feedback was that there was a lot of downtime in the crisis houses, but users wanted some activities they could do with others to help their crisis recovery.

A resident of The Warren said: “The group has reduced my loneliness, improved my social skills”, and “I feel like that this is the start to something rewarding.”

Another said: “The support group has been a huge part of my recovery. It feels supportive and inclusive, no one judges anyone for what they’ve been through or are going through, they all support one another. I would feel lost without it!”

One member said: “Suffering with mental health issues is a lonely place. I feel that I am part of something in the Warren Support Group. I feel included, valued, respected and that is reflected in my mental health stability.”

Find out more about NHFT’s crisis houses at

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