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Does anyone volunteer for the Samaritans as a call taker?

14 replies

TitsalinaBumSquash · 09/03/2021 13:56

I'm considering this and have looked at the volunteering steps.
I thought it would be sensible to speak to people who had experience with it to make sure I know what I'm getting myself into before committing.

Thanks in advance.

OP posts:
littleredberries · 18/03/2021 13:33

One of the hallmarks of being a Samaritan is not talking about it outside of their centres.
Just go to a centre and talk to someone directly, if that's a thing you can do in these coronavirus times.

TitsalinaBumSquash · 20/03/2021 12:59

Ah ok, that makes sense. Thanks

OP posts:
SleepingStandingUp · 22/05/2021 15:05

What there something specific you wanted to know op? The calls are confidential, training etc isnt

Allllchange · 22/05/2021 15:27

@littleredberries Surely you can give some information like what shifts are, the types of calls with no specifics that would give away anyone's identifying details and what support is like if you get a difficult call?

Allllchange · 22/05/2021 15:29

It's not exactly a secret club and people must be given some information about the role before starting. Like they would if they wanted to be a social worker.

TitsalinaBumSquash · 22/05/2021 15:39

I was wanting to know about how/when the sort of shift pattern was. Is it based in a call centre type scenario or at home? Is it all calls or text/email/we chat as I know they do emails.

I was also wondering if they do rigorous training but also check you're mentally strong enough to listen to some of the calls you would be taking?

I applied after writing this message a while ago and haven't heard back so I assume they're not taking volunteers at the moment anyway.

OP posts:
TaraR2020 · 22/05/2021 15:48

I have a friends who do this. The training is pretty rigorous and I believe they do encourage you to look after your own mental health. From what I've seen the shifts are set in advance but you can take a step back when you need a break and not do any for a while.

FLOrenze · 22/05/2021 15:57

My DD joined Samaritans last year. Usually the training is group based but because, of COVID she did hers by Zoom. A trainer and the other applicants taking it together. The calls are taken in an office not at home.

She really enjoyed the training and said it gave her many life skills which she could use outside of SAMS. To begin with you observe calls, then when trained you take over with a trainer listening in. Then, when they feel you are competent they let you free. At all times there is another person on hand if you feel out of your depth. A big part of the training is how to deal with the people who abuse the system.

Now she is fully trained and really enjoys the role. There is some night shift work but all shifts are voluntary. After the session there is a debrief if you need it. A mentor is on hand if you need to talk about any cases.

She got into it through her young son. He is a new 999 operator, who came home very distressed after dealing with a teenage suicide. I think if you go for the interview you will find out exactly what is involved. If after training you find it is not for you, there will be the satisfaction of trying your best.

Good luck.

SleepingStandingUp · 22/05/2021 16:53

FLO covered it pretty much. Re checking you're mentally able to cope etc. obv you'll be observed during practice calls and we don't hold back on those practice calls. I've been doing some via zoom this last month for new starters and you will get chance to roll play taking a call from someone suicidal. Obv that also helps flag up if you can't handle supporting people experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings and there's no shame in that. It's hard.

Drop them an email, places are Def restarting recruitment but obv depends on your area.

I don't do phones, only face to face calls at events, but the support system is similar

kerbearr · 22/05/2021 18:26

Hi, I used to volunteer has a Samaritan so happy to answer any questions. You get training and a mentor your first shifts will always be with your mentor! My branch was like a house there's always another volunteer with you you will never be on your own.

Throughout your shift you will answer calls, emails and text messages, you may also have face to face callers, my branch very rarely had face to face callers.

If you had a difficult call or was in the middle of a difficult there is a button to press so the other volunteer knows your having a difficult call and they will turn the phone line off so they can be there for you after the call, and will also be reported to your mentor who will check in with you in the following days.

You usually take one day shift a week and one night shift a month, to make it fair on all the volunteers!

Happy to answer any other questions

ItsAllGoingToBeFine · 22/05/2021 18:34

Ex Sam here:

The training and interview process is fairly rigourous - not everyone gets through (the training is very very good though)

You won't be taking calls at home I don't think - the number of people on shift is very dependent on the centre. When I was a sam there was two of us in at once.

Some centres also have face to face callers too. This can be difficult as you have to school your face as well as your tone.

Shift patterns also depend on the centre, you will be required to do a certain amount a shifts but when you do them is up to you (though dodging the overnight shifts is frowned upon).

And be warned, you will get a lot of sex calls.

Thinkaboutthings · 22/05/2021 18:38

When I did it, you had to do an overnight shift every six weeks, no exceptions. If you didn’t agree to that, you were not accepted. I did it for a year but found it hard as I couldn’t stay up all night and go straight into work the next day.

There was an open evening before the training where you could find out more and if it was for you.

Also yes, there were a lot of sex calls, more than 50% on some shifts.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine · 22/05/2021 18:42

I should add, I was there for a year and only had one potential suicide on the line call, and not that many actively suicidal callers.

The majority of calls were from lonely older people, people with mental health issues (you realise how shit mental health provision is when you are a Sam), and people who had a problem and no-one else to talk to (and sex calls)

Loveacuppa · 22/05/2021 18:43

If you are looking at mental health volunteering, then Shout is another option - it's home-based, online platform. I believe at the moment they are focusing on new volunteers who are able to help with late night shifts.

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