My experience as a Childline volunteer
Making a difference.
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact email@example.com.
"Occasionally we would even get a call from someone we had helped who wanted to thank us and let us know that things were better now"
I remember clearly the day I decided to volunteer for Childline. After hearing of yet another child abuse case, I made the decision to actually do something to help instead of sitting at home lamenting about how bad society had got. I went online, googled 'becoming a volunteer' and started the process.
A few weeks later, I passed my group and individual interview and my training began. As the weeks passed, the group grew smaller as the reality of having to deal with the numerous types of abuse out there hit home. It was not easy and as the time to take my first call approached, I began to wish I had never agreed to become a volunteer. I was terrified of saying the wrong thing, of not being able to help, of not being able to cope. What if I made things worse? How on earth could just talking and listening help?
My first call was not an easy one and I cried at the end of it, but it was a baptism of fire. I learned to cope and remembered the golden rule of empathy not sympathy. I started to look forward to going in, and for every call that made me feel like a failure, there were ten more that let me know I was making a difference. Not every call was about abuse; in fact many were just from kids or teenagers wanting to talk to someone who wouldn't judge them. They just wanted someone to listen to them and that's what Childline provided.
Occasionally we would even get a call from someone we had helped who wanted to thank us and let us know that things were better now. We would be told jokes, stories and even be treated to impromptu karaoke sessions. Whenever we did get a call that was tough and required further action, there was always support to get us through it. The worry of not being able to cope faded and I began to help the newer volunteers ease into it. I even found myself forgoing New Year's Eve celebrations so I could man the phones. It's been nearly two years since I made the decision to volunteer and bar a lack of confidence at the start, I've never regretted it.