A Firsthand Account of Service User Groups in the United Kingdom: An Evaluation of Their Purpose, Effectiveness, and Place Within the Recovery Movement
This article will seek to understand and critique existing service user involvement through an analysis of existing forums. This analysis will explore the drivers that have led to the formation of such groups, explore the range and scope for involvement that these forums allow, and assess their effectiveness in relation to definitions of their purpose. The analysis will also seek to determine whether there are common factors that either progress or limit their ability to achieve their aims. On the basis of this evidence, and within the context of the growing recovery movement, the article will present a potential new model, or models, and definitions of service user involvement. It will also outline the development of one such model through an examination of Uchooseit (a peer support service in Tameside that is situated in the Northwest of England). In this way, the article will seek to stimulate debate over the vexed question of what service user involvement really means within the United Kingdom and how it may be defined in the future within the context of the recovery model.