Words of Colour’s contribution to Leeds mental health initiative recognised by HSJ Awards 2023

An innovative programme of work to promote racial equality in Leeds’ mental health services has won a major accolade in this year’s Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards.

Synergi-Leeds, a partnership between the NHS, Public Health, and the local community and voluntary sectors (VCS) of which Words of Colour is a founding collaborator, was named Mental Health Innovation of the Year. It was also a finalist in the NHS Race Equality Award category.

The Synergi-Leeds Partnership is a citywide approach to tackling ethnic inequalities in mental health. It began in 2017 as a collaboration between Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds City Council’s Public Health team and other VCS services.

Initially supported by the Synergi Collaborative Centre, co-founded by Joy Francis, and latterly by Words of Colour, the partnership uses Synergi’s co-produced ‘Creative Spaces’ model to champion the voices of people with lived experience.

Words of Colour’s Executive Director Joy Francis said: ‘We have always championed the role of creative methodologies to facilitate systems change and privileging lived experience and communities of colour’s narratives, especially when there is a history of racial injustice. I’m incredibly proud that our collaborative approach, initially developed through the Synergi Collaborative Centre, which we co-founded, has been recognised as part of a Leeds-based programme, six years in the making.’

The national HSJ Awards recognise outstanding contributions to healthcare across the country. This year they received a record-breaking 1,456 entries, and Synergi-Leeds was among the 223 projects and individuals to reach the final shortlist.

Watch the highlights and witness the moment we won. Congratulations to all the shortlisted candidates and winners.