What is Living Well UK?

Living Well UK is a three year programme that is creating new systems of mental health support across the UK, inspired by a model developed in Lambeth, South London.


The Living Well UK programme has been awarded £3.4 million in National Lottery funding to support new local partnerships in Edinburgh, Luton, Salford, and Tameside & Glossop that will each develop their own version of a Living Well system.


The aim is that these new Living Well systems will become leading, internationally recognised examples of an innovative ways to help people achieve good mental health in community and primary care settings. They will have the potential to be scaled across the NHS in the UK, transforming current provision offered by GPs and community and mental health teams.

Why do we need new systems of mental health support?

Over the last 6 months the Living Well UK programme team have visited half a dozen local mental health systems across the UK. We have seen, heard and learned from brilliant people doing seriously difficult work with limited resources inside the current mental health system. Perhaps the most inspiring stories we have heard are those of people recovering from mental illness, emotional distress and trauma, who all want to work for a system that is better.

We have identified a set of false choices and gaps in the current system which drive how services are delivered.


What is a “Living Well system of support”?

The programme is helping to build Living Well systems of support that put people's strengths and lived experience at the centre and are designed to help people recover and stay well as part of their community. 

Living Well systems of support are distinguishable by a set of key features:

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Are accountable for people centred outcomes that promote choice, recovery and citizenship



See people as citizens within communities, rather than ‘patients’ or ‘professionals’

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Put the voice of lived experience at the centre of services and
the system



Activate supportive
social networks



Provide timely access to
support where it is needed 



Work collaboratively
and flatten hierarchies

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Work holistically, building up
and on people’s strengths



Have permission to test
and learn together

Read more about Lambeth Living Well, which was launched in 2010 and has radically transformed mental health services in Lambeth, south London,towards a Living Well system.

Explore case studies from inspiring places in the UK and abroad that are implementing approaches that share these features.

Who is involved?

Living Well UK is working with four pioneering places to each create their own version of a Living Well system.

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Innovation Unit


Innovation Unit is a social enterprise based in the UK, Australia
and New Zealand. We work internationally, applying disciplined approaches to develop new solutions and create impact at scale. Through our projects and ventures we identify, create and scale evidence-based solutions, mainly focused on: children’s social care, learning & schools, healthy lives, early years and mental health.


Innovation Unit is managing the Living Well UK Programme which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Innovation Unit will:

  • Provide innovation coaching to each of the four sites, supporting
    them to design and develop their own Living Well system

  • Support the four sites to learn from each other

  • Share learning from the programme with UK stakeholders (including senior leaders, commissioners and innovators)

  • Ensure the programme is properly evaluated


The National Lottery Community Fund


The National Lottery Community Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £9 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.

Its UK Portfolio supports UK-wide projects to test and grow bold ideas that put people in the lead to address long-term social issues and improve the quality of life across the UK and internationally.


The National Lottery Community Fund will monitor progress for the programme against agreed outcomes and help to share learning with other projects that it funds.




The Lambeth Living Well Alliance is a partnership of five organisations: Certitude and fellow voluntary sector provider Thames Reach, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Lambeth Council.


Leaders and practitioners from these organisations in Lambeth will be a key part of the programme - sharing their experience, expertise and learning with the four sites, including in areas such as frontline practice, co-production, commissioning and
collaborative leadership.


Luton is ‘reimagining mental health’ by

co-designing new rapid access offers that help resolve distress in people’s lives.


Luton are concerned about people who feel they are struggling with life (whatever that means to them) and are not getting the support they need. Some of the characteristics of this group include people who: are in crisis and need rapid access, have poor mental health but who may not have a diagnosed mental illness, have past trauma and complex social needs (eg substance misuse), but don’t know where to go for help. In Year 1 of the programme Luton will co-design a new 'open access' offer based in community and primary care.


The CCG is coordinating Luton's involvement in the Living Well UK programme, including convening a wide range of local partners who are collaborating to lead the change, including: key local VCS organisations such as Penrose Housing, Luton All Women's Centre, local authority housing teams, Healthwatch, primary care and the mental health trust (including social care).


Salford want to co-design new interventions for people with complex social and mental health needs who fall through the gap between primary and secondary care.

Some of the people they want to help include: local residents who have experienced trauma in childhood, people experiencing or at risk of crisis, people struggling with housing, money and physical health issues, and those with poor mental health but not necessarily a diagnosis. Salford want to learn from Lambeth to design their own 'front door' to mental health, drawing on their rich array of local assets and existing offers, to rethink how local organisations work together around the person so that anyone can access the right kind of help and support easily and quickly.


The CCG is coordinating Salford's involvement in the Living Well UK programme, and working closely alongside key local partners including VCS organisations such as Start, Six Degrees and Mind in Salford, Healthwatch, Salford Mental Health Forum, Salford Royal Hospital and Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust.  



Edinburgh has an ambitious whole city plan for Mental Health and Wellbeing called
Thrive Edinburgh.

This includes establishing open access Thrive centres/networks supported by multidisciplinary teams from voluntary and statutory sectors. The aim of the Thrive centres/networks will be to provide timely access to help and meaningful support using person centred planning and to help close the gap between primary and secondary care.


Key local organisations and leaders helping drive the creation of a Living Well system include: Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council (EVOC), the local Mental Health Forum for third sector providers, and the Strategic Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Edinburgh.

Tameside and Glossop

Tameside and Glossop are currently prototyping Living Life Well, a new system-wide approach to mental health that ensures people never ‘fall between the thresholds’ of services.


The new approach will provide a single integrated front door to mental health that offers medical, clinical and wider social support options. People will receive a coaching support from a neighbourhood mental health team consisting of peer, mental wellbeing and employment coaches, mental health practitioners and psychological therapists to help them overcome the challenges they face and pursue their aspirations. People will own their support and recovery plan, ensuring their story is placed at the centre of assessment and planning. They will be seen in different places and spaces within a mental health informed community, who understand what it is like to have a mental health condition.


Involvement in the programme is being led by key local organisations including: Action Together (the local voluntary sector umbrella body supporting an estimated 2,180 groups and 50,000 volunteers), the Clinical Commissioning Group and local authority, and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

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