Why do we need more peer support volunteers?

Our peer support service is all delivered via a team of amazing volunteers. Like any volunteer service our number of volunteers can vary from time to time, people leave due to changes in education, work, family or other circumstances.

Our peer support volunteers look out for our community members by responding safely to any suicidal threads that have been posted in a TSR forum. All our volunteers are provided with training based on the national Samaritan guidance.

Unlike the usual telephone Samaritan support we offer online support 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Although it’s a challenging experience, it can be very rewarding, knowing that you may have made a difference to one of members, signposting where they can seek support when they need it the most.

mug  of tea with message keep calm and mod on

What training will I get?

We have so much experience in our team so rest assured you will receive some excellent support. Our training guidance has also been put together using the Samaritans training resources. During your training you will be allocated a supervisor.

To ensure that you are fully prepared we provide online training which you can do from home. Each step of the way you will receive feedback from our knowledgeable trainers who are currently volunteering in the peer support team.

Throughout your training you will work through a number of scenario tasks and will then be able to discuss these with your supervisor. You will also attend an interactive session via a Google Hangout or Skype where you will be given a one real time example suicide thread to work through to make sure you are able to do it within the time constraints. Once you and your supervisor are happy that you are able to reply to threads correctly you will be allowed to respond to them on the main forum.

What support will I get?

Over the first few months your Supervisor and the rest of the team will be on-hand to offer you support. We always advise that your colleagues double check your responses to ensure there are no problems. Gaining a second opinion is a really helpful feedback tool and strengthens our bond as a team.

Once you and your supervisor are confident that you are happy to respond to threads independently and in a correct and safe way we will put you on the on-call volunteer rota.

What commitment would I need to give?

All our volunteers are on call for one month at a time. During this month you are on-call 24/7 and should a thread be reported a member of the moderator team will contact you via text to your mobile. Although this may sound very demanding our team generally find that in reality our team of on-call volunteers don’t receive an alert very often. There is also more than one volunteer on-call at anytime to ensure we always have back-up!

I study full-time/ I have a job/other commitments during the day – when can I volunteer?

We appreciate that everyone has busy lives and has multiple commitments. As many of our volunteers study and work we make sure that you are able to choose the months that best suit you. This means that you will have the flexibility to volunteer at times when you don’t have exams or several deadlines. On-call volunteers also do not get frequent text message alerts as most threads are managed by our team of mods who come across them during their time online.

mug of tea with message keep calm and mod on

Do I have to do a night shift?

We make sure we have on-call volunteers 24 hours a day. However, although this sounds like a big commitment it’s worth noting that you don’t have to sit up all night waiting for something to happen. If a thread is reported by a mod or a member of the community you will receive a text message to alert you. From our experience we have found that it is very rare to be contacted during the night.

Where will I be based whilst when I’m on-call?

All of our peer support volunteers log into TSR and respond to any suicide threads from home.

Who contacts us?

Our members who are potentially actively suicidal do not address their post to us as volunteers. Often these posts are flagged to us by someone in the community or by a Health and Relationships mods. As soon as we have been notified we respond to the member, acknowledging their post and writing a response based on the Samaritan guidelines and referring them to an external body that can support them further i.e. Samaritans or Nightline.

What qualities are you looking for in a volunteer?

We are looking for members who are able to empathise with the community and be caring and understanding of their situation. Our Peer Support Volunteers can be any age over 18, and be from all walks of life and backgrounds. You don’t need formal qualifications or previous experience, but a natural ability to understand written information and remain open minded and non-judgemental is essential.

Do I need completed a CRB check before I can volunteer?

All of our online staff and volunteers have to have a cleared DBS check (formerly known as a CRB) before they can volunteer with us.

If you are successful in the application process we will let you know and provide you with a DBS form to complete.