About the SUN Network

In late 2008, the Mental Health commissioners from Cambridgeshire County Council and NHS Cambridgeshire set to embark on improving user engagement within the commissioning of mental health services.  They funded the post of Service User Engagement worker for the county of Cambridgeshire and the idea for this post was prompted by the government written document ‘World Class Commissioning’ (2007).

The post was recruited to in August 2009 and the project has gone from strength to strength since then.

In June 2010, the first annual conference was organised and was attended by people who use mental health services from all over Cambridgeshire. At this meeting the ‘Service User Network’ was born. Initially the Service User Network was a series of monthly meetings between Service User forum Representatives and the Commissioners of Services.

During this time the Crisis Card was developed and a number of training sessions were made available to people to enable them to get involved. The reputation of the project began to grow, with organisations requesting an audience with the Service User Network to consult with them about methods of engagement.

There were long discussions about the term ‘service user’ and whether people liked it or not. After a public vote at the 2012 annual conference, the Service User Network became the SUN Network and a project commenced early 2013 to create a logo, online presence and an exciting interactive website.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (formally NHS Cambridgeshire) helped expand the project by incorporating older people’s mental health into the portfolio. They also provided the funds to turn the crisis card into an APP for Smart Phones. A project co-ordinator was recruited to ensure that the app was co-produced.

The App was launched in December 2013 and is available free on IOS and Android platforms.

In April 2014, we were awarded a 12 month contract to work with people who use Drug and Alcohol Services in Cambridgeshire, to ensure that their voices are heard within the planning, design and evaluations of services. We will be working hard to ensure that we engage with service users from across the county, delivery training sessions and supporting people to become involved. In order to this we are recruiting a drug and alcohol specialist worker to join the team.