What it's like being a volunteer -

Michelle's story

I knew that when I retired I would like to spend some of my extra time helping others in a voluntary capacity.  I went on to the 'Just Do It' website and had a good look around what was available.  I had quite a specific shopping list:  I wanted to learn new skills and  I wanted to have room to develop those skills within the organisation.  However, although I wanted to commit to the work I also wanted the freedom to drop everything at short notice if I was needed by my grandchildren.

I saw the advert for a Call Taker at Family Lives and came along for an interview.  The set up at Family Lives met all my needs and I  felt I would be making good use of my experience as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, mother in law and now, happily, Granny.


The training was fascinating and well organised.  When I was ready to take my first real call I was well supported by my Call Supervisor.  I have been a call taker for about 6 months now and no two sessions are the same.  I work as part of a team and at the end of the session we have a debrief this is a vital part of the job and a useful learning tool.

Call takers at Family Lives do not give out professional or expert advice not do we attempt to solve the caller's problems. Rather we are trained to listen and encourage the caller to explore their own feelings, identify their needs, decide for themselves what it is they want to do now, if anything.

Sometimes we are able to 'signpost' the caller to another organisation or website to get specific professional advice.  One example of this is bullying. I have received many calls from distressed parents about bullying and I find it very useful to be able to 'signpost' the caller to the Family Lives Website. The website contains a wealth of information on bullying including draft letters and a best practice procedure for speaking to the school.

I am learning how to listen.  I have discovered joy of allowing someone talk about their problems and feelings and how it empowers them to have the confidence to work out their own solutions.  It is a truly uplifting experience when this happens during a call.

In conclusion, if I had received this training when I was a young Mum I would have been a much better Mum.

(Names have been changed)

If you would like to find out more about being a volunteer, please have a look at our Volunteering section.

Tagged in: Volunteering
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