There are many challenges and rewards to volunteering with Yellow Door. I have taken on many tasks and responsibilities during my two years here from taking calls on the helpline, to scribing for assessments and arranging sessions.
I take on a helpline session every week. It can get quite busy and picking up that first call can be daunting for anyone. This is where we get the chance to use the skills we learnt through role-play activities in the volunteers’ training. You can experience some challenging situations on the helpline, which is where most callers will be in a state of crisis, and in need of support. Soon, it becomes less daunting when you realise that how vital our role is, and when you begin to notice how often a caller will put down the phone in a much better place than when they first picked it up.
During quiet periods, we will also call those who are on the waiting list for counselling. This can either be just to check in on them when they have requested a call, or – of they are at the top of the list – this is when we will invite them in for a preliminary assessment.
I will often scribe for a few assessments each week. Its great experience, giving me the chance to see how the more experienced counsellors work in the initial assessment which can be a very emotionally tough process for the client – quite often they have not previously talked about what has happened to them and how it has affected them with anyone. The assessment gives us a chance to get to know the individual a bit better, and ensures we understand their needs and what approach will be best in supporting them.
Volunteers also get the chance to come along to the supervision sessions. This is a great experience, giving us a space to explore our work with clients, calls taken on the helpline and general progression and development in the role of a counselling volunteer. It also works as a good place to challenge peer perceptions, work ethics and is a process that really encourages both personal and professional growth.
I have gained enough experience in these areas over two years to now be working with clients directly in sessions. Being able to offer direct support to someone for up to 24 sessions has proven so rewarding. It has given me the chance to help them build upon their inner strengths and see them develop into happier individuals able to live a fuller life.
Being a Yellow Door volunteer can be very challenging emotionally and can be very daunting but there is a great support base within the team and there is always someone around to talk things through. The challenging work is definitely rewarding and it is a great feeling to be involved in such a positive work environment with amazing outcomes.