Being one of our volunteers is rewarding but demanding work. Here are some honest answers about the most common questions people ask about becoming volunteers:
Do I have to have been bereaved by suicide?
Being bereaved by suicide more than 3 years previously is a requirement if you would like to work on our helpline, email support or be a group leader. However if you would like to support a group leader, fundraise or get involved through one of the back office opportunities that occasionally arise, you can do this even if you have not been personally affected by suicide.
How much time will it take?
If you work on the helpline, you will have prearranged shifts, each is 4 hours long. How many you sign up for will determine how much time you give. This is similar with email – though the number of emails and their complexity will determine how long it takes.
For a team leading a group, the minimum time is probably 5 or 6 hours a month each – 3 hours to run the group (including set up and close down) and then 3 hours each for phone calls, administration etc. This can vary depending on the number of callers etc. It helps if you can work flexibly as a team to share the workload. The time requirement may be greater when first setting up a group.
Some volunteers also choose to get more heavily involved in local activity such as publicity and education, as well as running a service, which can increase the time requirement.
For all roles, you should think about the fact that it can be emotionally demanding work and factor in the need for your own time and space.
There isn’t a group near me – can I start one?
If you are interested in opening a new group, you will need to form a team of three and the Group Leader must have been bereaved by suicide. We can offer you advice about attracting new volunteers, setting up and publicising new groups. If you don’t feel that this is for you, then consider supporting our helpline or email services or you could support us through publicity and fundraising.
Do I have to be a trained counsellor?
Our services are about self help – we bring people together who have been bereaved by suicide so that they can share their experiences and learning. We do signpost people to counselling organisations if they would like to explore this option. Some of our volunteers are also trained counsellors however we do not require them to use this skill in delivering our services.
If you are interested in developing or using your counselling skills, there are other organisations who offer this service.
What training is available?
We offer training to volunteers before they deliver our services. This covers both the practical and the emotional aspects of being a volunteer. We also seek to match people with a “mentor” – a more experience volunteer who they can work with and learn from. Our support team are always available to support our volunteers.
Is there an application process?
Yes. The wellbeing and safety of the people who use our services, our volunteers and our employees matters to us, so we require all volunteers to go through an application process which may include an informal interview and requesting references.