If you’re looking for ways to volunteer your time, what about contacting your local ChildLine base to see how you can help? Danielle Devin explains her role as a volunteer counsellor
Danielle Devin says that volunteering for ChildLine is “a great way to build experience and to test the water for a future career.”
Danielle joined the ChildLine base in Glasgow a year and a half ago. She does a three and a half hour counselling shift a week, providing help, advice and support to children and young people who contact the service online and by phone.
“I want to specialise in working with children and really enjoy volunteering for ChildLine. I’ve learnt new skills, and have made lots of friends, as well as knowing I’m making a difference for children and young people.
“You don’t have to have any special experience to become a ChildLine counsellor. The most important thing is to let the children who contact us know we’re here for them and give them space to talk. It’s their call and we want to empower them to explore their options. Callers often say they appreciate us helping them with ideas that might help their situation, rather than simply telling them what to do.
“ChildLine gives you full training before you start as a volunteer counsellor. It is run over a number of weeks and each module focuses on issues that ChildLine hears about, for example bullying, and on skills that you’ll need, such as listening. Roleplay help makes it feel very real. The training is realistic and honest but feels safe and supportive and humour is also used really well. We are also given ongoing training –which is a great opportunity to meet other volunteers and learn new techniques.
“We do our best to support young people however they present to us. Counselling children on the phone and via online chat uses the same skills but can feel different. On the phone it can feel more personal as there are more emotional cues. On the other hand online chat can feel easier as it can feel more anonymous, more accessible and more private. Young people can contact ChildLine online for support wherever they are, even if there are other people around since no-one can overhear the conversation.
“Each volunteer gets their own supervisor for regular supervision sessions. They are also available any time I need extra support. In the counselling room, supervisors are on hand to support us and to help keep children safe. The briefs and debriefs that run before and after counselling shifts make sure that I can manage the emotional side of things and ongoing training means that I’m always learning.
“Volunteering for ChildLine has helped me decide what I want to do. I’m starting an art psychotherapy course in September and I can’t wait. I’ve recommended volunteering to lots of people. If it sounds like it’s for you, just go for it.”
ChildLine needs volunteer counsellors at its Glasgow and Aberdeen bases. Find out more at www.nspcc.org.uk/childlinevolunteer