Being one of our volunteers is rewarding but demanding work. Here are some honest answers to the most common questions people ask about becoming volunteers.
Do I have to have been bereaved by suicide?
Being bereaved by suicide more than *2 years previously is a requirement if you would like to work on our helpline, email support or be a group facilitator. However, if you would like to support a group, fundraise or raise awareness, you can do this even if you have not been personally impacted by suicide loss.
How much time will it take?
If you work on the helpline, you will have prearranged shifts, each is between 30 minutes and 4 hours long. How much time you can spare 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 facilitating a group, the minimum time is probably 5 or 6 hours a month each – 3 hours to facilitate 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 required.
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 facilitators (national office can support you in finding other volunteers in your area) and all facilitators must have been bereaved by suicide for 2 years or more. 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 well being 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.