Our people

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Dr Konstantina (Dina) Poursanidou (director)

I am an independent service user researcher in mental health. I started using mental health services in 1991. My doctoral and postdoctoral research has spanned a range of fields including mental health, education, child health, youth justice and social policy/social welfare. I have worked in a number of Universities in England as a service user researcher and held a 3-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Patient and Public Involvement and Implementation Science at the Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. I am particularly interested in biographical narrative approaches to research interviewing, as well as in critical ethnography and autoethnography. Lastly, I am a member of the Asylum, the radical mental health magazine editorial group.

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Stephen Jeffreys (director)

I have a long history of mental health challenges. After some years of social isolation and contact with community mental health services and the benefits system, I returned to activity with help from informal peer support, family, creative pursuits and service user activism in mental health services and commissioning. I currently do freelance work in mental health research and training from my lived experience perspective, and administration  at Suresearch and the Survivor Researcher Network. I’m also a director  for the SRN  community interest company. Other periods of life have included work as a British Rail clerk and a legal aid solicitor and spells as a socialist political activist.

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Sonia Thompson (director)

Sonia began her academic career in Applied Social Sciences, more specifically Social Work and Youth and Community work after working in both fields in Jamaica and the UK. Her research interests include peer support for mental health and wellbeing. She is currently a Co-Director of the Survivor Researcher Network and a member of the Lived Experience Advisory Board at the Centre for Society and Mental Health at Kings College London.

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Dr Peter Beresford (founding member)

I am Peter and I identify as a long term mental health service user/survivor and activist. I have been involved in survivor and disabled people’s organisations for a long time and have found this supportive and an important way of working for ground up change. I used NHS mental health services for about 11 years and relied on welfare benefits for about seven, when it wasn’t anything like as bad to have to do so as now. But it was still bad enough and left me with lots of fears and problems. I am lucky to work part-time at the University of East Anglia carrying out research committed to inclusive involvement and I am also co-chair of Shaping Our Lives a user led and disabled people’s organisation and network, committed to increasing the say and control people have over they lives and support. I value our experiential knowledge as survivors and want to make that even more evident and respected in all research and knowledge development.

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Karen Machin (director)

Karen Machin is a director of the Survivor Researcher Network. Following experiences of distress, including a caring role, she slowly returned to work through volunteering and then self-employment, which has included film making, service evaluation and research, and training delivery. Her focus is on peer-based approaches and is inclusive of family and friend carers. Her current research topic is peer support workers’ use of technology.

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Dr Jacqui Lovell (director)

Jacqui works with individuals, groups and communities using approaches to effect social change that reflect the needs and aspirations of people at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Jacqui collaborates with diverse people with lived experience of mental distress and their community organisations to share skills in relation to organisational governance, funding, praxis and participatory evaluation using creative arts based approaches. She does so in her capacity as a White European cisgender lesbian, self-confessed granarchist, protest poet and Dr of critical community psychology. http://jacquiluvslife.blogspot.com/


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Holly Dale (director)

Holly will be adding her introduction later.