Help in a Crisis: volunteering online
Updated: Jun 23
✨ MELANIE FULLBROOK
A good while back I decided to invest some time in training to be a crisis aversion counsellor for the online platform Give Us A Shout. It is an incredibly rewarding charity to volunteer for and I wanted to write a little blog post to inspire anyone looking for a way to help others. You do it all from the comfort of your own home from your computer and it’s both incredibly challenging and rewarding. It is the perfect volunteer job for anyone freelance.
The training process to become a volunteer initially seems very daunting as you need to cover a lot of material however you can get through it as fast as you’re able to pick up the new skills and retain the information. It estimates needing up to 36 hours but I did it in much much less. It is a very well structured and run online course that takes you through the best ways to approach people in crisis (building rapport, problem solving together etc.) and instructs you in all the dos and don’ts. There are also computer simulated conversations so you can practice how to manage without having the pressure of a real human being on the other end.
Once you are trained you embark on your first shift. The charity always need people as the service is 24/7. The night shifts are especially important as they can have high traffic and obviously no one wants to give up their sleep. But it’s important to do from time to time. The platform is incredible supportive. You have options to chat with the other volunteers both for advice and support as well as a shift supervisor who oversees everything. People message in for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s bullying at school, or grief at a lost loved one. Sometimes it’s struggles with sexuality or addiction. Sometimes it’s suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it’s just loneliness. Whatever the feelings of the texter - the volunteer is there to take them from a place of crisis to a place of manageable calm where they have clear next steps in place. This might be through sharing links to other websites or charities that specifically deal with a certain issue. It might be sharing resources to manage anxiety like meditation and breathing exercises. It might be the police or an ambulance coming to check in on them. It might just be helping them find the confidence to reach out to someone they love and trust.
Who should do it:
I definitely don’t think this job is for everyone. You need to be able to manage your own self care well and to be able to hear very intense or upsetting information without letting it overly impact on your own mental health. You need to be able to stay calm when feeling under pressure. On a more basic level you need to be adequate at typing and spelling in order to be able to be clear and sensical in your conversation. If you feel like you have these qualities then the only other thing you need is a computer and two hours free in a week to give your time. You can book shifts whenever you like so it doesn’t always have to be the same each week but they do ask that if you can you commit 2-4hours per week whenever you’re able.
What I’ve learnt:
I’ve learnt that all human beings are complicated. That a lot of us have things we are scared of and very difficult feelings that sometimes just need to be shared. I’ve learnt that people are very grateful to feel heard and to be met with even the most basic of kindness. I’ve learnt that in the modern world, especially teenagers feel more comfortable opening up in messages rather than speaking in person or over the phone. I’ve learnt that helping others even in the smallest of ways is incredibly rewarding.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer have a look on https://www.giveusashout.org/