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The journey from service user to citizen

10 October 2017

Award winning “Pod” leads the way on treating people with severe mental health as citizens not ‘service users’.

The ‘Pod’ is an exceptional example of how a funded statutory provider can be cost effective whilst still offering  a person-centred model for people with severe mental health illnesses, according to a new report published today by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) & National Development Team for Inclusion  (NDTi) to mark World Mental Health Day

Lamb Street to the Pod: The journey from ‘Service user’ to citizen challenges national assumptions around what and how social care can deliver. It describes how the award winning pod, formerly known as the Lamb Street Day Centre, in Coventry uses social brokerage as a means to support and radically transform the lives of people with severe mental illness whilst also benefitting the wider community with its cutting edge and ambitious programming.

Through the leadership and creativity of its manager, Christine Eade, the Pod has introduced an artist collective which curates an annual mental health arts festival which closes today on World Mental Health Day, as well as a Food Union and a Time Union.  The Pod continues to thrive, receiving 200 referrals each year and has entered a bid for Coventry City of Culture 2021 status.

Christine Eade, Pod Manager, explains the importance of working differently, saying:

“I strongly believe that in order to facilitate mental health recovery and regeneration it’s important to cultivate new relationships and approaches, forge connections with the none traditional and inspire social change through adaptive and empowered practice and an open mind.  We have to be impassioned and genuine in the work we do”

Caroline Speirs, TLAP Head, added:

“The journey of Coventry City Council’s award winning pod provides a rich and detailed blue print of the genuine transformation that takes place when a strength based approach replaces a deficit model.  Ten years after Putting People First (PPF) heralded a new citizen based approach to care and support, the Pod showcases what PPF sought to achieve and what the Care Act intended to make real for many people.  There remains a gap between the legislation and practice but the Pod – via Christine Eade and her team -shows that  with vision, commitment, energy and,  crucially, permission to challenge systems, processes and structure, it is  entirely possible to journey from ‘service user to citizen’”

Dame Philippa Russell, carer and member of TLAP’s National Co-production Advisory Group, agreed:

“I think that this is a fantastic initiative – and such a powerful reminder of how (even in times of austerity) people with mental health issues and those experiencing other challenges can make the journey from ‘service user’ to citizen. I particularly like the emphasis on social brokerage and on a creative and dynamic use of all the resources -people and places- in the local community.  As the parent of an adult son with learning disabilities and related mental health issues, I hope that we can ‘grow’ the Coventry model elsewhere. I say ‘grow’ because the model is organic not a template. It epitomises the spirit of co-production and personalisation.  I felt more excited by its potential than I have felt by anything else for a long time!”

Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of Association of Mental Health Providers, added her support:

“It is very encouraging to see such excellent practice, which focuses on strengths not barriers and we welcome and champion all that the Pod is successfully achieving”

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