Riverside College counselling degree students and staff have recently partnered with USA charity Sidewalk Talk to create its first UK division and they provided the very first community listening events in the UK during Mental Health Awareness Week 2017.
Following the recent tragic events of the Manchester bombing, Riverside College Lecturer Rosie Byrom met with The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace to discuss how Sidewalk Talk volunteers could support their work. The college were asked to help at the One Love Manchester concert which they were eager to do.
Seven of the Sidewalk Talk volunteers at the concert were Riverside College students. The group provided listening opportunities for the attendees and gave out wrist bands, stickers and posters to support the #WeStandTogether campaign as well as providing information on where people could access further support if they needed it.
Sidewalk Talk community listening events involve inviting members of the public to sit with volunteers and talk about anything they choose. Listeners do not give advice or make judgements; they just listen with empathy and can point in the direction of further support services if needed.
Sidewalk Talk began in 2014 with the aim of promoting positive mental health and removing the stigma around counselling. The charity has grown significantly and now has many groups throughout the USA, Canada, Portugal and South Africa. Riverside College are the very first Sidewalk Talk group in the UK.
Rosie Byrom commented, “I am very proud of our student volunteers, they have been very well received by the community. It was a privilege for us to have been asked to provide support at the One Love Manchester convert, it was very emotional. We look forward to our future community listening events planned throughout the UK.”
If you would like more information on Sidewalk Talk, please visit http://www.sidewalktalksf.com/