About the Awards

Everyday, individuals accessing mental health, learning disability and autism services nationwide, are achieving great things. The National Lived Experience Awards are designed to celebrate these achievements, big and small, and share success stories that have been made possible on a local and national level.

History of the awards

The first awards were started by service users at Cygnet Hospital Derby. In 2012 the hospital had been nominated for an award for the ‘Buddy scheme’ that had been set up for new service users, and so some of the staff had been invited to attend an awards ceremony gala dinner. Some of the service users at Cygnet Hospital Derby pointed out that the ‘Buddy scheme’ had been led by service users and suggested a ‘service user award’ would be a good idea to recognise the achievements of service users in secure care and so…
The National Service User Awards was born!

“The whole day was a huge success and it’s great to be in the company of such recovery orientated innovators and pioneers.”
Gary Thorpe, Ashworth Hospital, Mersey Care NHS Trust

Held at Pride Park in Derby, the 2013 awards received over 100 nomination categories. There were 21 finalists on the day from 13 different organisations. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive so the decision was made to make it an annual event.

In 2014, the service user events team expanded to include representatives from Cygnet’s West Yorkshire Hospitals. The second event was held at Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire. We have also hosted the event Old Trafford, Manchester, the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and Colwick Hall in Nottingham.

After 10 years of the awards a focus group suggested a name change which they felt would better represent themselves and their peers. In 2023 this was put to a vote for a new name to be selected.

And now…

This year we are celebrating the 12th annual awards which this year has been renamed the National Lived Experience Awards. We hope the 2024 awards will be even bigger and better, and we hope you do too!

If you have any comments or feedback on the site, please let us know via the Contact Us page – we look forward to hearing your thoughts!