Becoming a listening volunteer

Joanne Marrable, Samaritans listening volunteer

I absolutely love being a listening volunteer with Samaritans, I consider it a privilege. There’s something quite humbling about being granted access into a person’s life and quite often in their darkest moments. Some callers can find it so difficult to pick up the phone and start a conversation and as a volunteer you’re able to give them the time and space they need to share their thoughts and feelings and to really listen to them.

I signed up to be a listening volunteer because I’d attended the Managing Suicidal Contacts training through work which I’d thoroughly enjoyed and then as part of my day job at the time, I’d found myself having one or two impromptu conversations about wellbeing and being mentally fit or physically fit to carry out your work. After looking online I dropped an enquiry to Samaritans and it went from there.

The initial training was classroom based with a closed group, it was a huge support to be with the same people as we progressed through the sessions, there were eight sessions in total (weekend/midweek). After some really challenging training and an “interview” with the Branch Director I was welcomed in to the team under mentorship. I was assigned a mentor to work with on a 1:1 basis and along with my mentor I was able to move in the to the ops room and begin to take calls – I was so nervous on my first duty and very thankful of the fantastic support of my mentor and duty partner. I went on to do a number of duties with my own mentor and others within the branch before being “made up” as a full listening volunteer.

I still feel like the new girl, some of the volunteers have been with the organisation for a very long time! The initial training was in a classroom and it was a huge support to be with the same people as we progressed through the sessions. After some really challenging training, I was welcomed in to the team under mentorship and moved to the operations room to begin to take calls – I was so nervous on my first duty and very thankful of the fantastic support of my mentor and duty partner.

Joanne started her training as a listening volunteer in January 2019 and usually does one shift a week, which can vary between three and six hours and includes overnight duties.