Synergi-Leeds is a partnership between the NHS, Public Health, and the local community and voluntary sectors to tackle the long-standing overrepresentation of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities admitted to crisis mental health services or detained under the Mental Health Act. Initially supported through a national partnership ecosystem led by the Synergi Collaborative Centre and latterly by Words of Colour, the partnership uses the Synergi model of co-produced ‘Creative Spaces’ events to champion the voices of people with lived experience, challenging institutional racism and galvanising people into meaningful action. There is also an all-age grants programme which financially supports grassroots projects. In the first year of the grants’ programme, 800 people directly benefited and over 5,000 people were engaged with projects in various ways, of which, 3,600 were from minority ethnic backgrounds. The programme, including signing up to the Synergi Collaborative Centre’s National Pledge to Reduce Ethnic Inequalities in Mental Health Systems, has influenced senior leadership within the NHS and Public Health to make changes within their own organisations, and commit to actions to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health - read more here. The partnership was recognised by the 2023 Health Service Journal awards, which highlight outstanding contributions to healthcare across the country. It was named Mental Health Innovation of the Year, and was a finalist in the Race Equality Award category.
Building on the success to date, a new citywide initiative between Synergi-Leeds and Words of Colour, funded by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, has been announced for 2024. Remembering What’s Forgotten is a 12-month hybrid programme and exhibition which will champion community and lived experience narratives to tackle the overrepresentation of black and South Asian men detained under the Mental Health Act in Leeds. The programme will draw on 50 years of community initiatives, allyship and knowledge to re-imagine a more inclusive and equitable mental health system, guided by racial justice.
“It’s time to centre the undervalued legacy of community organisations, carers and lived experience activists. Oral history and creative outlets have long served as tools of resilience amid generational trauma, institutional gaslighting, racism and the absence of culturally relevant and co-produced mental health services. Remembering What’s Forgotten is a step in the right direction as one option for change and accountability.” - Joy Francis, Executive Director, Words of Colour and Project Manager, Remembering What’s Forgotten