SRN History


The Survivor Researcher Network (SRN) was originally formed after the ‘Strategies for Living’ Mental Health Foundation project (1997-2003) and was hosted by the Mental Health Foundation until 2011 when it moved to NSUN. SRN has been hosted by NSUN until October 2021, and we are now an independent community interest company. The information on this  page contains text that was on the SRN  page on the NSUN Website:

The network aims to provide mental health service users and survivors who are involved and interested in research with a forum for networking, sharing information and supporting each other.

The Survivor Researcher Network:

  • acknowledges and promotes the diversity of experiences, identities and backgrounds of survivor researcherschallenges the marginalisation of some communities in mental health research (including user-led research), in terms of access to resources, participation and leadership
  • promotes the evidence based on lived experience as fundamental to the knowledge base on mental health, human rights and social justice
  • challenges the current hierarchy of knowledge that exists in mental health research and promote alternatives to the dominant medical model
  • sets standards and promote good practice in user/survivor research in mental health

In 2013 a survey of SRN members helped to formulate draft aims and objectives and potential work of the new research network.

The findings of the survey are available here:

In 2016, members of the SRN met for a seminar entitled ‘Reclaiming, Challenging and Reviving Survivor Research’.
The event was funded by the Sociological Review Foundation and Middlesex University and created a space for researchers whose voices have not historically been included to consider issues around survivor research, whiteness and heteronormativity.

Following on from this event we recruited nine volunteers from across the country to join the SRN working group.

Active current working group members are:

Peter Beresford (East Anglia)
Holly Dale (North West)
Stephen Jeffreys (West Midlands)
Jacqui Lovell-Norton (Wales/North East)
Karen Machin (North West)
Dina Poursanidou (London and South East)
Sonia Thompson (East Midlands)

Building on the previous work of the SRN, the working group looks specifically at developing a values-based framework for the network, identifying shared values, addressing issues of inclusivity and considering how we work with values in conflict. The group also considers next steps for the SRN, including options for practical research projects and funding opportunities.

In 2018, SRN published its manifesto, which sets out the background and context to survivor and service user research and our aims and values as a network

SRN produces a bulletin of research opportunities, events and articles every two months. Information is also now shared via the SRN Twitter account at @SurvivorResNet.

In June 2019, SRN prepared and presented two posters at the NADSN (National Association of Disabled Staff Networks) & LGBT+NoN (LGBT+ Network of Networks) Joint intersectionality Conference in Manchester. The posters focused on the SRN Manifesto and issues and barriers for survivor researchers in higher education.

Members of the Working Group have conducted an evaluation of the ‘service user and carer’ involvement in a large National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funded project entitled ‘The contribution of the voluntary sector to mental health crisis care in England’ in conjunction with With-You Consultancy.

During 2019-20, a number of Working Group members worked on a chapter, entitled ‘How can we survive and thrive as survivor researchers?’ which explores aspects of survivor research and barriers to involvement and progression for the  Routledge Handbook of Service User Involvement in Human Services Research and Education, edited by Peter Beresford and others.

In 2019, two SRN Working Group members gave a presentation on the SRN and their approach to survivor research at a two day international conference on in Vienna entitled “In the work of experience – Peer projects introduce themselves” and organised by Verein LOK Leben ohne Krankenhaus (Association LOK Living without Hospital). Another member facilitated a workshop together with a Norwegian service user researcher at a critical perspectives on mental health conference in Cork, Ireland. The workshop explored identity and employment struggles associated with being a service user researcher in academia.

SRN continues to lobby research organisations and funders for opportunities for user-led research groups to apply for funding.
SRN is represented at meetings of the Social Workers’ Union Austerity Action Group, the Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders and the Mental Health Qualitative Research Network.