Being a listening volunteer can be difficult at times, and we understand it’s not for everyone. Before you apply, we want to make sure that you consider some of the realities of the role. Please take the time to read through and consider the following five statements. Once you have read each one and confirmed that you have understood them, you will progress to the enquiry form.
I understand that some of the things I may hear as a listening volunteer will be difficult.
People contact us when they’re feeling desperate, angry, grieving or in pain. Some of them are feeling suicidal.
Some things people tell us can be particularly tough to hear. But you never volunteer alone and you can always take time out and talk it through with another volunteer. When you become a volunteer, you join a community of people all facing the same challenges and you’re surrounded by people who will support you.
I understand that I can’t tell people who contact us what to do.
Our role as listening volunteers is to listen. You may really want to tell people what to do, or what not to do, but you can’t.
Not giving advice can be difficult at times, but just being there for people, offering a human presence, is hugely important.
I understand that I may have to listen to someone take their own life.
The majority of people who contact us aren’t suicidal, but very occasionally you might have someone who is not only suicidal but intending to go through with it.
Samaritans accepts that people make their own decisions, remain responsible for their own lives and do not lose the right to make decisions – even if that decision is to take their own life.
But… it's always our aim that through listening, giving time and space to someone and talking things through, the person will choose to live.
Our training will help prepare you for these kinds of situations – and the people around you at Samaritans will talk things through and support you as much as you need.
I am able to listen to others without judgement.
You have to support callers even if they’re doing things you don’t approve of. Our role is to be there for everyone who contacts us.
It’s really important that people are able to contact us without feeling that we’ll make judgements about them. Our training will help you to listen and offer support without judging.
I can cope with feeling deeply uncomfortable.
You sometimes have to hear about difficult things that have happened to someone. You'll also often never know what happens to someone after they've been in contact.
The people who contact us are going through a tough time, and very often that’s because bad things have happened to them. But we don’t have the option of putting the phone down or walking away. We have to be willing to hear about these things.
But if things ever do get on top of you, you can take a break and you can ask another volunteer for support. You’ll be with other volunteers who know exactly what you’re going through.
Not sure if this role is for you?
If you don’t think the listening role is right for you there are lots of other ways you can support us – marketing our services, fundraising, organising events, providing IT support, or helping out in one of our shops. It all depends what you want to do and what you’re good at. Find out more about supporting Samaritans in other ways.