Socially Connected Leeds: Kindness in a time of crisis

This post is part of a series of blogs sharing good news stories, positive practice and the range of innovative ways communities in Leeds are remaining connected through neighbourliness. This blog has been written to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

None of us can escape the crisis which is COVID-19. Crisis is something we know a lot about here at Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service (LSLCS).

We provide a range of out of hours support services to people experiencing a mental health crisis. We were founded in 1999 by a group of campaigning mental health service users, who wanted more non-medical support to people in crisis using compassionate, person centred support.

Our survivor-led ethos means that everyone who works and volunteers at LSLCS has had their own experiences of mental health issues. My role is to manage Dial House – where we usually physically provide a face-to-face crisis service. In the twelve years since I came to the organisation, the volunteers and staff I’ve met have all been here because they cared about people and wanted to do the work. We’re proud of the positive experience we give people through the support we provide. In fact one term that stands out is “kindness”- many people talk about how kind our staff and volunteers are.

I believe this is simply a result of the right people doing the right work. When you’re passionate about a cause, you do it well and put a lot of effort into it. The same (if not more) is true of volunteers. We have a long history of training volunteers for our Connect Helpline and having them staff it (in fact, I was one myself before I got a paid role here).

So when we were approached about managing a group of new Community Care Volunteers to provide support to other volunteers, it wasn’t exactly a foreign concept for us! But I suppose what has surprised me is just how keen and positive this group of volunteers are - so keen to help, so willing to put in the time to support others.

People across the city have stepped up to volunteer to support others and it’s only right that we support them. Being able to provide this support through other volunteers fits well with our ethos here at LSLCS. We’re busy training up about thirty people who’ve come forward to volunteer for this new service – people who’ve told us they have experience of providing support to others. All front-line volunteers will be contacted to let them know that a ‘listening ear’ is available to them – to help if they’ve experienced a difficult situation whilst volunteering or simply need someone to talk to.

These are difficult times for us all, but the kindness shown by these volunteers is something we can all celebrate.

Post written by:

Barry Cooper

Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service

(Dial House) @LSLCS

#TogetherLeeds

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