Collaboratives represent a very different way of unlocking energy, ideas and resources. They recognise that anyone in a system can be a leader. People bring themselves, and their personal motivation, to the work. In Collaborative meetings, job titles and lanyards don’t matter, hierarchy is flattened. Equality and inclusivity are key. It is often difficult to know if a Collaborative member is a chief officer, frontline worker, or carer, for example. Collaboratives are the engine room of collaborative leadership - the practice of working together as peers across organisational and professional boundaries, towards a common purpose and shared vision for change.

Living Well Collaboratives oversee and help direct the design of new Living Well service models. They also look to influence other areas of mental health - for example crisis care and care for children and young people - and the wider health and social care system.

‘Collaboratives’ are forums where people come together to discuss, debate and push for change in the way in which a local area responds to the mental health needs in its population.

Inspired by Lambeth’s Collaborative - which has now been meeting regularly for 10 years - new Collaboratives have been meeting every month in Tameside & Glossop, Salford and Luton. They are made up of people who use services, carers, practitioners, managers and leaders and are represented by all the main organisations working in mental health, including voluntary sector providers, carer and user organisations, mental health trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities.

Collaboratives have key roles in:

Creating, holding and
refreshing the vision and values

We are clear about our motivation and vision

Our vision is informed by lived experience

We review and
refresh our goals

We are

in it for

the long haul

We know our core Living Well values

Building a movement

Engaging communities and stakeholders and amplifying the voices of people previously marginalised or not heard

We gather and

use evidence

We test adoption of Living Well

We help others overcome barriers to change

We embed a culture of shared risk and accountability

We use strategic levers to make change happen

Leading and championing

the change process

We make sure that voices from across our community are heard

We engage colleagues from across the system

We build our movement through relationships & networks

We embed a culture of shared risk and accountability

We use strategic levers to make change happen

Unlocking and releasing capacity

securing people’s time and permission to participate

We use resources from across the system

We give permission to try new things

We use our power and influence to help others participate

We take responsibility for others’ wellbeing

We help others commit time,

energy and ideas

Holding the wider system to account

 ensuring that new forms of practice, commissioning and leadership are developed and sustained

We bring ourselves fully to the work

We communicate openly and effectively

We are clear about our purpose and responsibility

We have the will

and power to get

things done

We generate learning for others

The Lambeth Living Well Collaborative is a coalition of service users, carers, voluntary sector providers, primary care, social care, commissioners and secondary care, who first came together in 2010 in a local cafe to start to drive change in the mental health system. They were initially commissioned by the CCG to co-design a radical new mental health service - what became the Living Well Network Hub. 

Since 2010, Lambeth’s
Collaborative has:


  • Provided legitimacy and authority for change

  • Supported co-production at the heart of the change process, and encouraged professionals, service users and carers to work with, not against each other

  • Maintained energy for change among local stakeholders and kept things going when momentum has slowed

  • Held each other to account in achieving a shared vision

  • Provided a blueprint for collaborative leadership that helped lay the ground for new models of collaborative commissioning
    and governance


Primary care


Public Health

Mental Health Hospital Trust

Voluntary Sector Providers

Social Care

People who use services


Lambeth’s Collaborative

Over the last ten years they have continued to meet in the same local cafe for a few hours every month to discuss solutions to long-standing challenges that weren’t being addressed by ‘business as usual’:

Poor service user experience and disjointed care pathways, secondary care services struggling with high caseloads, over capacity in hospital wards and reducing budgets.

They wanted a new system that could shift investment from secondary to primary and community care, make it a lot easier for people to get help where and when they need it, focus on people’s assets and strengths and blend medical/clinical support with social offers that address the wider determinants of ill health. 

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