The North East Lincolnshire Independent Forum was first “conceived” as a result of a contract awarded by NELincs Social Services in partnership with Health Authority 1999 to the Brij Group. A mental health service user and carer led organisation from the Midlands.

The contract asked for the development of a district wide “social network” for providers and commissioners to “partner” with in relation to increasing service user and carer involvement in the planning & development of all local mental health services. The “network” would also provide an avenue of communication for the “partners”

From early 2000 through to beginning 2001 contact was made with many individuals, groups, projects, organisations and agencies involved in MHS, via meetings, post (sending information), questionnaires and visits.

The response was overwhelming, so much so, that the Brij team were able to bring 81 persons together (service users, carers, Social Services, Health voluntary sector). A sign of our success at that first meeting, was the attendance by Chief Executive-Doncaster & South Humber, Director of NELincs Social Services, Mental Health Lead, Doncaster Health Authority.

2001 also saw the formal registration of NELForum, employment of Lesley Brown as Manager, members support and training in preparation of first AGM to elect Board.

During the intervening years from 2002 to 2011 there were many, many advancements the Forum was either instigating or involved with. Progress through training. The partnerships with the service providers and commissioners. All Board meeting had Forum members in attendance, Staff interviews had Forum members on panels, providing induction after appointment. This now includes doctors and consultants. Attendance at all service meetings (see list), service visits (This is where Forum members visit most in/out patient service areas). The Forum did several service surveys and reports monitoring and evaluating local MHS, statutory and voluntary sectors. Our Partnership Mental Health Training Programme grew, which the Forum was involved with overseas.

2012 to date has seen the “birth” of NAViGO a Social Enterprise within the NHS. We form a large percentage of the Community Members, having full, voting rights equal to Staff Members. This enables service users and carers to vote at AGM, including appointment of Chair and CEO!

The Forum is as much a part of NELincs  MHS as are NAViGO, Local Authority, GP,s.