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Our Lived Experience team are here to help

Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP) leads the creation of lived experience structures within the county wide system. Working across the county with voluntary sector partners to bring together a team of lived experience leads for specific local areas.

Lived Experience involves bringing service user voices into the conversation, allowing their voice to shape change and transform services. People with Lived Experience are often regarded as ‘experts by experience.’

Their role sits within the Community Mental Health Transformation programme. The transformation is a five year national programme to improve the lives of people who need emotional wellbeing support the way they’re supported in their local communities.

The purpose of the Lived Experience team is to seek out people within County Durham who have experience of using mental health services and hear what they, or their carers, have to say. They then collate this information, gather key themes, and take those to local steering group meetings where we can influence the decision-making process.

Everyone who is involved in caring for people has a role to play in the transformation. Health and social care, local authorities, emergency services, voluntary sector organisations and people with lived experience are all working together to make change happen.

The team currently currently have five team members covering the County:


Kalina Bellis, Lived Experience Lead (county-wide)

Sophie Richardson, Local Lived Experience Lead, Chester-lee-street

Hannah Farran, Local Lived Experience Lead, Sedgefield

Julie Garg, Local Lived Experience Lead, Durham East, Durham West & Bishop Auckland

Vanessa Ditchburn, Local Lived Experience Lead, Derwentside & Claypath

The team also work with other partner organisations: Durham County Carers, East Durham Trust and UTAS

Lived Experience create a safe space where they truly listen to people’s views about accessing services.


If you would like to speak to the team, please don't hesitate contact you can also download their leaflet here for more information. They are here to help and listen to you.



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