Crisis Line wants volunteers
Josh Winquist - Jan 03 - Get Involved

Image: The Canadian Press

It is a call to action that might just save someone’s life.

The Vernon Crisis Line is searching for new volunteers.

“Volunteers are offering our community an invaluable service that someone in need might not otherwise get if the volunteer wasn’t there to help,” said Paula Guidi who started as a volunteer with the crisis line before becoming its program co-ordinator.

Guidi said it is something she was just called to. “We don’t just save lives, we change them.”

The non-profit receives calls for a large portion of the province, including from 1-800-suicide and the Mental Health Support line.

From the Interior to Prince George to the Alberta border, 19 volunteers currently handle the phone lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“Shifts are four hours, morning, noon and night. We have 5 ‘overnight’ where a crisis line worker can choose to answer calls from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. We would love to have another dozen or more trainees this February…and that would really help support our callers.”

A volunteer’s job is to assess the safety of the caller, or third person, and talk to them if they need emotional support and access intervention if required.

One volunteer said, “I enjoy giving back to the community and the skills I have learned on the line have improved so many areas of my life. Volunteering was the best decision I ever made”

Some people are afraid to get help face to face, so the crisis line is a way to for them to reach out.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a crisis line worker willing to pick up the phone at 2 a.m. when I didn’t think I was worth it. Just by being there, they reminded me that I was.”

Guidi said the crisis line is a free, non-judgemental service. Volunteers don’t council but talk, and in some cases offer referrals for services in local areas to help the caller.

Three training sessions for volunteers will be offered in the winter:

  • Feb. 17-18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Feb. 24-25  from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • March 7 from  4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Guidi says they want volunteers to work one, four-hour shift per week for a year.

A second training session will be offered in May.

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