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Lifeline WA showcases its heroes during National Volunteer Week

10 May 2021

Ahead of National Volunteer Week, Lifeline WA is paying tribute to its record number of volunteer telephone crisis supporters.

Lifeline WA is recruiting and training more volunteer telephone crisis supporters to answer the unprecedented 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.

For new crisis supporter and Kallaroo resident Rebecca Rourke, National Volunteer Week is a chance to reflect on having the opportunity to support the community.

“I decided to volunteer for a whole range of reasons but primarily I had someone say to me they wanted to end their life and I felt completely out of my depth,” she said.

“I knew that mental health was the largest growing area of disability and I wanted the confidence that what I said and did was the right thing.

“I find volunteering with Lifeline to be an absolute privilege. Listening to people who don’t know you, seeking a connection, is special.”

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.

“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.

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.

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

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.

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.