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Lifeline WA recruits record number of volunteers

17 May 2021

Lifeline WA is recruiting and training record numbers of volunteer telephone crisis supporters to answer the record number of calls to its 13 11 14 support service.

The suicide prevention service has already recruited 57 new crisis supporters this year, taking the total number to more than 250, with that number to expand even further this year.

Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor said the not-for-profit helped 11,474 people in the first three months of this year; an increase of 16% on the same time last year, and 49% more than the same period in 2019.

“Our WA volunteer crisis supporters are answering more calls than ever before, and in March this year, we took more calls than we have in any month in our history,” she said.

“These call records are indicative of the anxiety currently being felt in the community, which, in part, is due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

“We know from past experience that the effect on people’s mental health from major traumatic events can last for many months, and we believe that’s what we’re seeing with COVID.”

Ms MacGregor said she was immensely proud of the organisation’s dedicated volunteer crisis supporters, who stepped up day after day to try to meet the demand for the 13 11 14 service.

“This week, being National Volunteer Week, is an opportunity to say thank you to our volunteers for their selflessness and commitment, and for being there to listen to the community,” she said.

Telephone crisis supporters undergo almost 180 hours of training over 12 months to enable them to answer calls, which costs around $4,000.

This year, Lifeline WA offered its first full time training program over four weeks, which was completed by 14 crisis supporters.

One of these volunteers was university student Nada Tawfeek, who was able to complete the course during her mid-year uni break.

“I am so glad I took that first step to start volunteering at Lifeline,” she said.

“It is a privilege to be able to listen to people when they need someone to talk to. I am so grateful to get the opportunity to do this and I hope to do this for many years to come.”

Lifeline WA plans to train at least another four groups of volunteers this year, which could increase its crisis support volunteer workforce to over 300 people.

Ms MacGregor said Lifeline WA also had volunteers who take part in events and other programs such as the Community Visitors Scheme, which pairs volunteers with older people who benefit from having company.

National Volunteer Week runs from 17th – 23rd of May.

For 24/7 crisis support or suicide prevention services, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifelinewa.org.au

Anyone interested in volunteering with Lifeline WA can contact HR@lifelinewa.org.au

Lifeline’s 24/7 telephone crisis support service is available on 13 11 14.