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Black History Month 2020

It’s Black History Month everybody! A member of the Dial House @Touchstone team has written their thoughts on the service offered amidst the backdrop of the 2020 world.


Endless late nights, long hours; much more than a job this is about a deep desire to see good quality support offered to people so often disregarded by society.

As we know October is Black History Month, a time where we celebrate the contributions that Black people have brought to the world, with this in mind I want to celebrate the achievements that Dial House @Touchstone (DH@T) have been quietly making on Tuesday and Thursday evenings since 2013. I would go as far as to describe it as pioneering.

DH@T may not be here this time next year. The funding for this service is not secure, at some point a decision will be made as to whether we will be able to continue the work we do or not. The work we do includes reaching out to Black people, from all over the world, who have had labels, convictions, addictions, who are refugees or asylum seekers, who have been tortured, who have no idea who to trust or believe, who could be deported at any time, those who have been mistreated, overlooked, and abused by systems that are supposed to protect help and protect. As a BAME service, insecure indefinite funding is the norm, our reality, no biggie!

As the first BAME mental health, out-of-hours, survivor-led crisis service in Leeds, we are paving the way for future services for Black people, for Black workers in mental health. Most of the original group that set up the service are still part of the team. Endless late nights, long hours; much more than a job this is about a deep desire to see good quality support offered to people so often disregarded by society. The team are united and focused in their approach but know there are times when we need to laugh, smile and see the funny side of life.

I know DH@T has made a difference to people’s lives. We have shown that with the right combination of skills, approach, flexibility, dedication and understanding we can get BAME people who are suffering with their mental health to trust, open up, cry, share and laugh alongside us. We have shown that they’ve been definitely harder to reach but not impossible. 

I would also like to raise the point that with the higher risks to Black people from Covid and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement alongside Brexit. The climate in which BAME people live feels like it has changed. It seems that those with racist views are more confident to speak out, which can leave people feeling vulnerable and unsettled. For those with mental health issues it can make life even harder to navigate through. Let us not digress too much and get back to the positive message I’m hoping to exude.

This service has grown and developed through the care and attention it has had from those in leadership roles. I just want to say, “Well done,” to everyone who has made this service what it is today, you are brilliant, what you are achieving is fantastic and it’s okay to be extremely proud of everything that has been accomplished over the past few years. Whatever happens to the service next year is out of our hands, so for now we carry on. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON SUPPORTING!