Creative Spaces

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Synergi Collaborative Centre Stroke

A systems approach to reduce ethnic inequalities in severe mental distress and improve experiences and outcomes

What is Creative Spaces?

Creative Spaces facilitates solution-focused dialogue, collaborations, and co-designed approaches, to enable health systems interventions to prevent or reduce ethnic inequalities and multiple disadvantages experienced by people with severe mental illnesses. This approach enables us to respond to longstanding concerns and issues in new ways by placing lived experience narratives at the heart of our discussions, policies and strategies and using inclusive creative methods.

The context is stark. Ethnic inequalities in severe mental distress are longstanding and exceptionally large, disadvantaging those from Black Caribbean and Black African ethnic minority groups particularly, though not exclusively. Ethnic minority people have a higher risk for experiencing ‘symptoms’ of psychoses, an even higher risk for a diagnosis of psychoses, and once diagnosed are also much more likely to experience adverse pathways to and through care, including more coercive care, compulsory admissions and treatments, and comparatively less general practitioner care.

Creative Spaces generates alliances, builds relationships with different partners and brings together people from different constituencies, to facilitate honest and open exploration of the challenges and constraints, and to harmonise the purpose of co-created workable actions across the whole system.

It works with the local legacy and experiences, and engages service user and carer organisations, NGOs, commissioners, academics, voluntary organisations, activists, community groups, public bodies and other interested parties. This includes informal and formal sectors, embracing social and cultural assets in the community, which help to deliver identified solutions by electively sharing risk, but also keeping any agreed actions close to the real experiences of the beneficiaries and their concerns.

Creative Spaces currently operates from two sites: Leeds and Manchester, and has built constructive alliances in Birmingham, especially with the voluntary sector and community groups and activists. We have listed the main partners, but each region has a wider stakeholder group that covers education, community groups, youth work, heritage organisations and the arts, among others.


Creative Spaces: Leeds

  • NHS Leeds CCG
  • Leeds City Council
  • Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board
  • Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Leeds GP Confederation
  • Leeds Public Health
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership: Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism Collaborative
  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Forum Central
  • Inspire North

Creative Spaces: Manchester

  • Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership
  • Manchester Museum
  • Whitworth Gallery
  • Caribbean and African Health Network
  • African Caribbean Mental Health Services
  • LMCP
  • British Muslim Heritage Centre
  • Mind Manchester

Creative Spaces: Birmingham

  • Catalyst 4 Change
  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Karen Newbigging (University of Birmingham), Health Services Management Centre
  • West Midlands Combined Authority
  • The Red Earth Collective

Creative Spaces: London

  • City and Hackney CCG
  • London Borough of Hackney
  • Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network
  • East London NHS Foundation Trust

If you would like to know more, please email [email protected]