Touchstone is passionate about involving service users in all aspects of service delivery and planning.  We work together and we celebrate together. Roderic Morgan (Service User Consultant) reflects on the annual service user party in December last year. 

The Touchstone Christmas Party for 2014 was held at the Sheepscar Club in Chapeltown on the evening of 18th December 2014. When I arrived around 6.30pm, preparations were being made and the entertainers were arriving. This year they brought their own equipment with them, which included a screen to display the words for karaoke singers to follow. Volunteers and service user consultants helped with setting up.
There were three different tables for Indian, Caribbean and Chinese food and sandwiches were available as another option. There was obviously more choice than in previous years and a new way of dividing the queues to help make serving the food easier.
I helped by taking charge of the raffle tickets which were given out free to the service users as they arrived. Eric and Sabine were working hard as volunteers helping to put the tables out. This year, people were not just sitting in their usual place but, spread out more, giving an opportunity to meet new people. The membership of Touchstone is very wide, making up a rich mixture of cultures and social backgrounds.
Service users started arriving at 6.50pm. There were a lot of people on hand to help with crossing the language barriers and helping those who did not understand. I had to work hard here, but it was all very rewarding. The music started playing early and some service users drummed along to the music as it played. It was very loud but it helped to get the party going and created some excitement. The DJ played some festive music.
This year Shirley was able to entertain by playing the drums. Shirley is very talented so far as the music and dancing goes. Shirley sang ‘Hey Big Spender’ and Peter sang a David Soul number. Many other singers also contributed to the Karaoke although some service users did not like the singers. As the evening went on, it became more exciting and service users felt able to let their hair down and contribute to the evening’s entertainment and the serving of food. Some people danced to the music. When food began to be served it was very busy with about 170 people. The queues were orderly and in a good mood. The party goers were showing promising talent especially Emma who was the first to sing a song. Richard also sang a U2 song, though there were some problems with feedback. There was a good round of applause for the singers.
There were a few late comers, but everybody got something to eat and there was plenty of gateaux for second helpings and some took food home. The raffle went smoothly and there were good prizes for the winning tickets. The winners represented a good cross section of the community. There was a vote of thanks to Alison Lowe with a presentation for all her hard work over the year. The revellers started to leave around 10pm although the entertainment went on until 11pm.
The taxis went smoothly, without anybody having to wait too long. All together it was a good evening with everybody in good spirits. It was easy to mingle because of the seating arrangements and the dance floor area. The Sheepscar Club is a popular place for Touchstone to hold the Service User Christmas Party and no doubt will be for years to come!
Would you like to become the next Service User Reporter? Please contact Julia or Ben on 0113 271 8277