Seetal’s a student and a volunteer on the Connect Helpline, and she has also been helping out at Dial House @Touchstone, our service for people from culturally diverse communities. Here, she talks about her experiences so far and the value of the support and social space offered.
I’m Seetal, a volunteer worker here at LSLCS where I mainly work on the Connect helpline, but have recently been familiarising myself with the Dial House @Touchstone service and what they have to offer. As a person who identifies as a POC/ethnic minority, it was really great to hear about a service that focused on helping marginalised groups, especially as many issues brought up are likely to be culturally sensitive or specific. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been able to attend various sessions held at Dial House @Touchstone, in the warmest and friendliest of manners.
The first session that I shadowed was one a support sessions, which also happened to be my very first time observing a support in person! This session really emphasised how important it is for visitors to have a safe, non-judgmental space where they feel able to connect with someone also from a culturally-diverse background, fostering a greater sense of community through better understanding. I have also been joining in with the social time on Monday evenings, and this has proved really beneficial for me and others alike in terms of the support that people from differing racial and cultural backgrounds can offer each other.
Some conversations that I have had with staff and visitors have been really enlightening, with one particular shared thought amongst staff springing to mind – bar working at Dial House @Touchstone, it is a rare occurrence to occupy a space in which we would be a majority, as opposed to a minority. For many of us, this was the first time in our lives we were in a completely POC-dominated space, to the point where it didn’t feel like a “space” anymore but a home.
As a young person, this experience has really highlighted how pertinent these types of services are for people. I’ve only been involved with Dial House @Touchstone a handful of times so far, but I can confidently say that I have been made to feel like part of the family immediately, and there seemed to be a consensus amongst other staff and visitors regarding the first times they came to the service too. This sense of ease and friendly adoption into the service by visitors is really useful in helping to reduce feelings of isolation in certain communities, thereby promoting a more positive state of wellbeing. After having such positive experiences early on, I’m really eager to continue to be part of this service over the next couple of months, and to be part of the family 🙂