Here is some information about the Synergi Collaborative Centre, its purpose, goals and approach to collaboration, research and inclusion. Find out why the name was chosen, who is being targeted, our ways of working and what we hope to achieve over the five year programme.
Why the name Synergi Collaborative Centre?
We worked through a community listening exercise for the branding process. We took on board the recommendations, working through several options to signal the intentions and the type of energy and positivity we wished to promote in this rather neglected area. The name is a play on two words: (Syn) as in the ‘sins’ of mental health regarding the ‘wicked’ outcomes for particular groups, and the (e)nergy we want the project to generate, to facilitate a new, fresh and confident approach to transform the outcomes and narratives around the causes of ethnic inequalities, severe mental illness and multiple disadvantage.
What will the Synergi Collaborative Centre do?
The question for us is not what but how. We will pursue a process to ensure sustainable progress to tackle ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness, and multiple disadvantages, which are the causes and consequences. To achieve that, the centre will take a collaborative approach, using the principles of co-production of knowledge and a creative mix of robust research methods.
Over five years the centre will:
• Collate, interpret and communicate data and knowledge on ethnic inequalities in mental health and related systems, and how this relates to severe and multiple disadvantage.
• Bring together the full range of stakeholders through models of co-production, and co-curation of knowledge, to develop and implement solutions.
• Place lived experience narratives centre stage.
• Use creative, digital and evidence-based platforms to share these narratives.
• Become a focal point for action, leading to systems change regarding ethnic inequalities in mental health services.
• Identify opportunities to reduce and prevent ethnic inequalities to improve the health of individuals and populations.
Why is the centre focusing on these three areas: ethnic inequalities, severe mental illness and multiple disadvantage?
These areas have been known to be problematic for decades, yet there has been little sustained action at any level to tackle them. We believe this is due to a divergent narrative on the evidence, and lack of motivation and uncertainty over what will work. We also feel that multiple disadvantages and complexity are often overlooked, along with the views and experiences of those with lived experience. By bringing these elements together we will provide a fresh approach that is of importance to wider public health and wellbeing, and societal success.
Why is the Synergi Collaborative Centre described as a centre of excellence? Will it set standards?
The Synergi Collaborative Centre will aspire to promote the best in public health and health service practice, to prevent and remedy ethnic inequalities in the experience and outcomes of severe mental illness. We will be working in partnership with other organisations and communities, and will collectively pursue many actions to leverage change. We will work with partners to agree what actions are the most successful. Standards may be part of that action.
Will there be a physical centre and, if not, how will the public be able to engage and access it?
This is a virtual, functional partnership between the commissioned organisations, but we will be working with local communities and partners of which there will be many. We also have a central online point of contact with the website and social media platforms. Currently in its first phase, the website will highlight the project’s progress, reflect the diverse range of narratives and serve as a campaigning tool. As such, we will be inclusive and work through the organisations of partners as well as our host institutions. This is important as its success will be owned by a broad range of participants. There is also The Synergi Network, which will be launched in February 2018. It will meet six times a year in different parts of the country and is open to all interested parties, including members of the public, to provide a thinking space to inform, engage and share ideas, learning and solutions. Find out more here.
How are you going to influence policymakers?
Policymakers recognise the challenge, but they want to know what actions to take. We will support and work with them to promote positive changes in policy. The challenge is to crystallise the evidence and transform this into co-created narratives around the actions which are more likely to be successful.
How will you work with ethnic minority people with lived experience of mental illness and their carers?
Our work plan is to first consult with patients, carers and other stakeholders, people from ethnic minority backgrounds as well as other interested parties. Only through these community-based participatory discussions will we learn about what to prioritise, and which hidden stories are still unheard and need more open presentation. Through co-production and co-creation processes, we will develop our work plan, including which questions to address, and then work towards building links between different sectors within health systems in London and Manchester, and then other areas.
How will this programme be different from previous ones?
Previous initiatives have shown successful outcomes, sometimes partially, but often on a short-term basis. Building sustainability and shared ownership into the programme, and ensuring previously silenced or unheard voices are prominent, is critical to the centre’s future success. The co-creation and co-design processes will seek to ensure effectiveness and long-term sustainability.