2018 NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK
Everyday people, doing the extraordinary
SAMHC Weekly Blogger:
Centre Supervisor, Lifeline Adelaide
Without its dedicated volunteers, Lifeline Adelaide simply couldn’t save lives in our community.
National Volunteer Week is not only a great opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of the people giving their time to this crucial service, but to also share some of their stories and motivations for working with Lifeline Adelaide.
Every day, we hear from people experiencing a range of challenges, including depression, domestic violence, relationship problems, loneliness, drug and alcohol addiction, and homelessness.
Each year, our team of 165-plus Crisis Supporters answer 34,000 phone calls and 12,000 online chats in our Adelaide phone room – and this figure is steadily growing.
Crisis Supporters know better than most the extent of Australia’s national suicide emergency. Alarmingly, every day across Australia, 10 people lose their lives to suicide.
It takes a special kind of person to put their hand up and offer to help turn that around.
Each shift, our volunteers are supporting people who are experiencing some of their darkest moments. Many of these callers are seriously considering suicide. Sometimes a Crisis Supporter will have one chance – one moment – to help someone through their pain. To make them feel they are not alone, to give them hope and to help them to keep safe.
Each volunteer completes 12 months of specialist training to become an accredited Crisis Supporter. The course includes a two-day suicide intervention course and six-week face-to-face training module, covering topics such as crisis response skills, listening skills and self-awareness. As well as committing to completing the course, volunteers are also making a financial contribution to the significant costs of their training.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Some are professionals – lawyers, journalists, teachers –some are students looking to develop practical skills, and some are retirees who simply want a way to give back. But what they all have in common is their compassion, humility and deep desire to support people in crisis.
So, what drives a person volunteer to save lives? Some of our Crisis Supporters recently shared their thoughts with me about why they give their time and efforts to Lifeline Adelaide:
“I’m studying Counselling and have always wanted to be a part of Lifeline – this is now one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life. We’re all here for the same reason – to help people – and that brings us all together. I’ve had some wonderful experiences with both callers and the team.” Effie
“I wanted to do something to help others. When you’re on a call and you really connect, there’s nothing better. People lean into you and let you into their lives. I’ve spoken to some amazing people.” Alex
“I think we offer hope and a chance to look at life in a different way. The people we speak to already have great strength, because they have reached out and made that call.” Christine
“I find the sense of connection with people so rewarding. To have the capacity to connect with a person in moments when they are so very vulnerable… it gives me a strong sense of gratitude and privilege.” Cathy
Thankfully, among the many heart-wrenching stories we hear, there are also plenty of stories of hope, strength and resilience. With every phone call or online chat, our volunteers are doing their best to save lives.
While it’s not an easy job, we know our volunteers use these critical skills beyond the phone room, supporting workmates, families and friendship groups. And, at a time when one in five people experience a mental health problem and suicide rates are at a ten-year high, we can’t thank them enough for it.
Lifeline Adelaide is a service of Uniting Communities.
Lifeline is available 24/7 on 13 11 14, or through the online Crisis Support Chat which operates from 7pm to midnight (EST) every day.
By Jenny Brown
Centre Supervisor, Lifeline Adelaide
Jenny Brown is extremely passionate about raising awareness and reducing the stigma and incidence of suicide in our communities.
Jenny works collaboratively with a dedicated and committed team, coaching and mentoring Lifeline volunteers in supporting those in crisis. Jenny’s role extends to group facilitator, co-trainer and assessor for Volunteers-Crisis Support with the 13 11 14 service.
She is also responsible for delivering various professional development workshops for staff and volunteers within Lifeline Adelaide.
SAMHC Special Weekly Bloggers