Coming here is like someone wrapping you in a blanket. Even if you are having a low time, it makes it easier to cope with life. It reminds you we’ve all got something going on, we’ve all got struggles. You’re not alone.
Su started coming to SLT last September. It wasn’t an easy start – it took her three attempts just to arrive at a SLT event as she was suffering from a particularly severe period of agoraphobia and depression. She became a volunteer on her first evening and has been helping in the kitchen at Friday night events ever since.
Su speaks of the way SLT values the volunteers who give up their time to help at events. She describes how volunteers are genuinely thanked and appreciated in a way which is uncommon in other areas of life. In her first week, she was taught Robin’s famous coleslaw recipe and a retiring member of the kitchen staff gave her the apron she wears in the picture as a gift. She says “it’s like you do matter somewhere, it’s not just fitting in”. Regular phone calls from the SLT CEO Hannah and yearly thank you certificates are just some of the other examples we chat about.
This recognition has had a huge impact on Su. She says that the positive atmosphere within SLT and the knowledge that she is valued has turned things around for her, making a huge difference to her mental health. She loves the opportunities to make connections as a volunteer with ‘regulars’ – other volunteers and new members who come through the door each week.
Last weekend Su was invited to attend the Patron’s Lunch with SLT. The charity was given tickets to the event in recognition of being awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. She describes how being chosen to attend the event is something which she can hold on to when she is feeling worthless and depressed. These small ways in which the charity rebuilds self-worth and connection are hugely important. There are many people who want help to pull themselves out of a spiral, Su tells me, but often there is no one there to help out. She says this is why SLT is so important, because at its root there are real people and a real need within the community.