Volunteers help keep the Crisis Line going

The People in Need Crisis Line begins training for new volunteers in April.

Last year, the Crisis Line received more than 4,000 calls, and thanks to dedicated volunteers there was someone on the other end of the line to take those calls.

But more volunteers are always needed. The PIN Crisis Line is taking applications now for the next volunteer Crisis Line worker training, which begins April 13.

“If you are interested in learning to help people help themselves, learn excellent communication skills and crisis intervention, then consider becoming a member of our team,” said Sharon Durant, community education and program support coordinator for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Vernon, which runs the Crisis Line.

The Crisis Line has operated without interruption 24 hours a day since it opened in 1975.

“The credit for this must be given to the hundreds of volunteers for their compassion, commitment and dedication, for they are the ones who have provided countless hours of listening and empowering,” said Durant.

Of the 4,503 calls received in 2011, 29 per cent were for mental emotional health concerns; 11 per cent were for relationship issues (family and other);  18 per cent were information/referral calls and seven per cent were suicide-related calls. Crisis Line workers gave 2,143 referrals in 2011.

All volunteers are required to take part in a minimum of 35 hours of in-class and practical training, which is done one-on-one with a staff person.

After the completion of training, volunteers are required to commit to a minimum of 200 hours of Crisis Intervention work, for a minimum of three four-hour shifts and one eight-hour overnight shift per month. Volunteers can be excepted from working overnight shifts for valid medical reasons. The Crisis Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The lines are staffed by an average of 35 volunteer crisis line workers and three staff members.

“During training, participants will increase their communication and interpersonal skills,” said Durant. “All types of calls will be covered and how to handle them through specific procedures.”

Session topics include behaviours, mental illness, abuse, suicide, isolation, grief and crisis intervention.

For more information or for a volunteer application, please call the program office at 250-545-8074.