On Monday, 9 January, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) hosted a special ‘Making Safeguarding Personal’ event to offer clinical colleagues across healthcare organisations with the opportunity to find out from people who use mental health services what safeguarding really means. The event was also attended by Local MP Tom Brake.

The Trust has been working collaboratively with partner organisations to review existing safeguarding adult practices across local services, namely the Sutton 1 in 4 Network, and the Sutton and Merton User Reference Group.

The agencies involved formed the Making Safeguarding Personal Group (MSP), firmly based on the principles of co-production. The group wrote a report with a number of recommendations on how disclosures of abuse and neglect should be addressed and how service users can safeguard themselves. The full report can be found here.

Local MP Tom Brake attended the event and said:
“I was very impressed to see how closely Sutton’s mental health users are working with the Trust to ensure that mental health service users’ experiences are heard and properly understood.”

Director of Nursing and Quality at SWLSTG Vanessa Ford said:
“This event is the culmination of a commitment the Trust made in 2012 to ensure service users are at the heart of improvements to our existing safeguarding adult policies and practices. Although we have made progress, we recognise there is still more work to do to increase awareness and for service users to know how to safeguard themselves. We are proud to continue to work alongside service users to ensure we are offering the best safeguarding practices possible for staff, patients and the wider community. There is nothing more powerful than hearing what makes a difference from people who use the services themselves.”

A service user (CB) spoke at the event and said:
“We would like to thank the Trust for their positive approach to this report which is now embedded in Trust policy, we would also like to say thank you for arranging this event to allow us to bring our work to a much wider audience. With this all in view, we would hope that this report will be the basis for wider use by mental health services as a whole, not just statutory but the voluntary sector and anywhere that services come into contact with Mental Health Service users, both in institutions and the community.”

The report includes feedback from service users who made up the Making Safeguarding personal group. Some of the highlights include: “I feel the group has made us as service users, be more influential. We’ve all put in a lot of energy, time and commitment. And the group’s work doesn’t end here. The written report is just the beginning. Safeguarding is not just about the big issues, it’s the little things too. We used to feel what we were saying was getting lost. This has been a model of how to work together. Now people want us, as service users, at the table. This is shows how co-production can work. This report provides the evidence that we can work together.”