About Us

We are a group with various combinations of identities including service user, carer, Trust worker and academic who all collaborate to conduct mental health research and evaluations:

  • Nicola Armstrong
  • Helen Atkin
  • Toby Brandon
  • Alison Flaherty
  • Deb Helme
  • Caroline Kemp
  • Lisa Matthews
  • Steph Morley
  • Louise Thomson
  • Jamie White
  • Oliver Wood

Steering Group (Recovery through Care Coordination): Helen Atkin, Nicola Armstrong, Liz Bowman, Toby Brandon, Alisdair Cameron, Simon Douglas, Paula Edwards, Alison Flaherty, Deb Helme, Mick Hill, Caroline Kemp, Lisa Matthews, Shula Ramon, Louise Thomson, Jan Wallcraft, Oliver Wood.

Nicola Armstrong

Nicola has been working within the field of involvement for 23 years and now works in the Community Transformation Team for Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. She people have choices and are able to make informed decisions. She is working closely with staff to help improve the service offered and to embed a culture of recovery, well-being and meaningful involvement. is passionate about the power of co-production; shared learning and education in order that

Helen Atkin

Helen is a Research Fellow in the Department of Social Work and Communities within Northumbria University. Her background is as an occupational therapist with a passion for service user involvement in the NHS.  She has a particular interest in participatory research, co-production and inclusive practice in mental health and neurological long term conditions.

Toby Brandon

Toby is a Reader in Disability and Mental Health in the Department of Social Work and Communities at Northumbria University. He has a long standing interest in inclusion and engagement, regionally developing a network of contacts within Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, third sector and other organisations. His work covers disablist hate crime, advocacy, co-production and mental health recovery. Toby lectures on Disability and Mad Studies and is Chair of the local charity ‘Disability North’.

Alison Flaherty

Alison has used mental health services from the age of 17 to 53. She is passionate about involving service users in shaping services, being involved in their care and trying to change the service culture of how people experience distress. In 2004 she became a WRAP educator and it is her belief that people can still lead a fulfilling life despite experiencing mental distress.

Debora Helme

Deb is the daughter of a long term service user and is interested in mental health research and recovery.  She has been a researcher on the emancipatory project on recovery at Northumbria University for 4 years.

Caroline Kemp

Caroline is a retired teacher who researches in mental health, she has been a carer for over twenty years for her daughter who has severe psychosis. Currently she is a writer, poet and panel member for the National Institute for Health Research, using the knowledge gained from previous research to evaluate current research proposals. Caroline has also been involved with the Clinical Research Network North East and Cumbria for over 10 years.

Louise Thomson

Louise is a researcher, service user, retired teacher and support group facilitator. She has been motivated by a positive experience of collaborating with academics and the NHS in service user and carer led research. She is also an active member of local, national and international groups fighting stigma and advocating for mental health and a more compassionate society.

Lisa Matthews

Lisa has been a researcher for Northumbria University for the past four years. She is also a volunteer for Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust helping to shape services for the better by advocating for recovery in mental health and well-being for all. She is a wellness recovery action plan educator having used mental health service for the past 16 years. She believes we should always be looking at new ways of working and thinking outside the box.

Oliver Wood

Oliver has been a mental health service user for over 20 years and has been involved in user led campaigning and activism for some time. He sees involving service users as equal partners in research as having huge potential to bring equality, and improved services to people experiencing mental ill health.