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Service User Research Enterprise

The Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) undertakes research that examines mental health services from the perspectives of those who use or refuse them, explores empirically and conceptually the impact of service user involvement in research (in terms of both process and outcomes), and critically interrogates how service users contribute to knowledge production.

The unit was founded by Professor Til Wykes and followed from her research which included service user involvement in all aspects of research. The unit was launched in its current form in 2001 following a local conference where service user involvement in all aspects of research was prioritised. SURE is established on the premise that the research priorities and perspectives of service users are different from those of people who work in mental health services, and from those of people with a solely academic background. Our aim is therefore to drive research through service user knowledge, to involve service users in a collaborative way in the whole research process and also  to situate this theoretically.

Internationally, SURE is the largest unit within a university to be predominantly composed of people who have both research skills and first-hand experience of mental health services and treatments or alternative supports. We carry out service user-led studies as well as collaborations with academics in all aspects of mental health research. We also play a part in developing service user researchers through graduate training and opportunities to learn new research skills. SURE promotes and supports good practice in service user and carer involvement in health and social care research more broadly and engages with local communities in South London, nationally and internationally.

For twenty years, the SURE Research Group was led by Professor Diana Rose - the world’s first Professor of User-Led Research and a social scientist and mental health service user who was one of the pioneers of user-focused research. 

Her work on consumer perspectives on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) influenced National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and in 2011-12 Professor Diana Rose co-chaired the NICE Guidelines on the Service User Experience in Adult Mental Health Services.

The current Director of SURE is Dr Angela Sweeney, a trauma survivor researcher and Senior Lecturer in User Led Research.