AN NHS mental health trust is creating leadership roles for people with lived experience of mental illness.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) says it believes it is the first trust to recruit its own "lived experience" directors. 

TEWV  is working to make changes to its services after being rated as requiring improvement, has developed the roles so people can bring their own "knowledge, understanding and compassion" to the strategic leadership of the trust.

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The trust is recruiting two lived experience directors, who will aim to ensure the trust improves its services by working closely with its network of patients and carers, communities, and colleagues in other lived experience roles.

Ann Bridges, executive director of corporate affairs and involvement at TEWV, said: “As we continue on Our Journey to Change - our five-year plan setting out the kind of organisation we want to be - these are vital roles for the trust.

“One of our goals is to co-create a great experience for our patients, carers and their families, and it’s important that our leadership team includes people with lived experience of mental illness, who can bring a new level of perspective and understanding to our organisation and how we develop our services.

“We’re looking for people who have a passion for improving mental health care, whether they’ve experienced it themselves, or as a carer.”

David Gilbert, who was the first lived experience patient director in the NHS and has worked with the trust to develop the role, said: “These types of roles are revolutionary – they ensure that shared-decision making is modelled from ward to board, and that there can be much more of a focus on what matters to people who use services and their loved ones."

Joanne Clare, lived experience involvement member at TEWV, said: “It’s time to challenge and disrupt conventional thinking.

"The journey is as important as the outcome. TEWV is beginning to show commitment to enthuse, inspire, train and support diverse communities and seldom heard voices to keep co-creation at its core.”

TEWV provides mental health and learning disability services for the people of County Durham and Darlington, Teesside, North Yorkshire, York and Selby – serving a population of about 2 million people.

The roles can be found at

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