Meet Dakota – A YMCA Right Here volunteer from 2011-2013
I joined Right Here as a college sixth form student. I was studying Chemistry and Biology and was wanting to gain volunteer work experience relevant to a potential medical career. Mental health had always been incredibly important to me, and Right Here’s mission to empower young people to protect and promote their own mental and emotional wellbeing was something I fully aligned with.
My time at Right Here was brilliant, not only did we provide a vital resource to educating young people on mental health awareness in the area, but we also formed a close group of friends and had a lot of fun doing it. Over the course of my time with Right Here, I worked over 100 volunteer hours on a range of different initiatives. My work even allowed a brief moment of fame when I was interviewed for a BBC 3 documentary about mental health. Unfortunately for me, my mum filmed this interview and now I can never forget my late tween choices of fashion.
More importantly, I felt that Right Here really did make a difference, and really did provide useful resources that young people could easily use. This is perhaps best evidenced by our work being recognised on a national level when we received a second-place award in the Independent Academic Research Studies (‘IARS’) national researcher of the year award. This was in acknowledgment of our recent research into GP services for young people (in particular regarding the accessibility and treatment of mental and emotional wellbeing issues).
I stopped volunteering for Right Here when I left Bright and Hove to attend university. In the end, I studied History and not medicine. Whilst, my interest as a professional medic waned my belief in the importance of providing young people (and adults alike) with the necessary tools to protect mental health and emotional wellbeing has not. I am due to qualify as a corporate solicitor this September and have never been more aware of the need to have the appropriate tools to develop mental and emotional resilience. I will never forget my time at Right Here or the lessons it has taught me, I hope over the next ten years we see more initiatives which aim to empower people to protect and promote mental health before a crisis has to arise.