Home > Community Volunteering > Volunteering for a Telephone Helpline

Volunteering for a Telephone Helpline

By: Lynne Conner - Updated: 12 Oct 2023 | comments*Discuss
Helpline Helplines Listening Skills

If you have a desire to help people, good listening skills and a clear speaking voice then you may want to consider volunteering with a telephone helpline. Helplines exist for a wide variety of reasons and causes from Childline and the Samaritans where a listening ear is paramount to local helplines which give information and advice.

Can You Commit to This Kind of Work?

Take some time to think about what kind of commitment you would like to give. Are you able to deal with callers who may be distressed, upset or even suicidal? Or would you prefer to volunteer for a helpline which gives out factual information to callers? You can find out more about the helplines operating in your area by consulting your local library or council of voluntary organisations.

When you get in touch with the helpline you would like to volunteer with you will find out whether you will work from a central call centre or whether you will work from home. In the majority of cases you will work from a central office, this is because the technology for working from home may not be in place but also so that trained supervisors can be on hand to provide guidance and support throughout your shift.

Volunteering Hours for Helplines

Helpline opening hours vary. Some run 24 hours a day while others may only operate for a few hours on selected days. You will be asked to commit to a regular time slot once or more a week and to set aside a fixed number of hours such as two or three. This is your shift and ideally you will undertake the same shift each week.

Before you begin you should receive comprehensive training. This will include familiarisation with the equipment as well as listening skills and how to deal with difficult callers. Each helpline will offer unique training that is appropriate to the calls it receives. For example if you volunteer for a debt helpline you will be offered training on consumer advice, benefits, bankruptcy and debt management. For a helpline designed to provide emotional support there may be extensive training over a period of time so that supervisors can prepare you fully and assess your suitability for dealing with sensitive calls. It may be several weeks or longer before you complete your training and are ready to begin answering calls.

Qualities Needed to Work on a Helpline

When you log in for your shift you will be expected to represent the values of the helpline to callers. You will need to show patience, tact and diplomacy and take the time to allow callers to fully explain themselves. Some callers may be unclear at first about what they want or need and so you will need to develop the skills to encourage them to express themselves in a way that can be fully understood.

Telephone helpline work can be demanding and challenging. It is certainly unpredictable as you will never know in advance who is calling or what problem or issue they will raise. It can also be incredibly rewarding and makes a significant difference to the lives of callers.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi!I am currently working in a call center setting and I need more training and practice. I would like to volunteer at weekends. I am a caring, giving individual with very good listening skills. I am a civil servant and listening, encouraging, keep confidentiality, supporting and sign posting are the main duties. I would to volunteer , to help. Thanks
Ana Maria - 12-Oct-23 @ 5:31 AM
Hi there looking for telephone voluntary work, can start training asap...
Mal - 13-Oct-21 @ 3:37 AM
Hello I would love to volunteer on this helpline to be kind and helpful to be people who need it.
Danielle - 17-Aug-21 @ 12:28 PM
Hi my name is Catriona and I am very interested in becoming a telephone volunteer . I deal with people on a daily basis and for the past 3 yrs volunteer with a group to help the homeless of Glasgow I feel once trained I would have the skills to help many people and the patience to listen to each individual person’s situation I look forward to hopefully hearing from you
Cat - 1-Dec-20 @ 7:29 PM
hello i am interested in becoming a telephone volunteer.i have alot of experience and knowledge in this field and have worked in a vast range of situations from crisis volunteering to befriender with both teens and elderly please could someone email me asap please
g - 30-Nov-20 @ 12:10 PM
After working with families for over 30yrs, I now have the time to offer a listening ear. Being able to offer support during a difficulttime. Whether its listening, offering encouragement or sign posting. I work for NHS and can offer a few hours each week as a volunteer .
Mia - 20-Oct-20 @ 1:21 PM
Hello I am very interested in volunteeringmy husband died 6 months ago and mind helped me so it would be nice to give something back
Pan - 16-Oct-20 @ 7:42 PM
I benefit from over 17 years experience working with a variety of individuals/groups in educational and advisory roles. In addition to teaching qualifications, I also have level 3 and 4 diplomas in Counselling (which I want to build a career in). Right now, I would love to build up on experience in this industry, so require voluntary roles where I can put my skills and experiences into good use!
Debz - 18-Jun-20 @ 5:17 PM
I'm currently studying my Counciling diploma after completing my Certificate of Counselling. I would like ti work in any area of voluntary work.
Helen - 9-May-20 @ 9:53 AM
I'm committed to giving love, hope and I sincerely believe that my calling has always been to represent our lord. I pray you allow me to be so blessed as I'm committed to my faith and my congregation. I'm truly blessed with a beautiful family. If there is Any volunteer work going then I'm the Vicor you need right now. Bless each and everyone peace and prosperity is my motto.
T - 8-May-20 @ 8:30 PM
Hi. I am currently working as a primary teaching assistant. And a home tutor. I'm currently completing my Certificate of Counselling, going on to study a diploma in counselling. I would like to contribute my skills to helping people with problems during this difficult period and to gain experience for my counselling.
Helen - 2-May-20 @ 11:10 AM
Hi. I'm currently a primary school teaching assistant and home tutor. I'm just completing my certificate of Counselling then going on to study a diploma in counselling. I would like to contribute my skills on a voluntarily basis listening to people on telephone helplines. We are all experiencing difficulties at the moment so I would like to offer support whilst gaining experience.
Helen - 2-May-20 @ 11:03 AM
Hello, I’m able to volunteer and help anyone who needs it via phone. I’m a qualified carer with many skills in helping people. Thank you
El - 4-Apr-20 @ 5:58 AM
I am interested in vole tart work. to help with isolated people, I am a nurse who has taken early retirement due to ill health
Lainey - 2-Apr-20 @ 12:40 PM
I want to give back to the community and there is no better way then this. I would love to help with supporting anyone who needs a ear to listen to or words of encouragement and support and make them see there is so much to live for in life and everything is not doom and gloom. I’m a survivor of my things and would love to reassure them that we can fight for biggest dreams and never give up dosent matter how many times we fall. ????
Nads - 13-Nov-19 @ 3:12 PM
Hi, I would like to volunteer maybe on the telephones.Giving advice and being able to support people in times of a crisis. I work a full time job but would be able to give a few hours a week.
Sez - 7-Jan-19 @ 8:28 PM
Hello, I would like to train for voluntarytelephone helpline.I have experience of working with elderly tenants in Sheltered accommodation, including those with Mental Health and Learning disabilities.I am able to communicate in South Asian languages including Gujarati, Hindi and Punjabi.I would like to utilise my language skills where there is more need for these languages and where the number of volunteers may not meet the demand (if any) in any area, not necessarily the elderly. I am from Leicester but happy to work phone for a National helpline.I would also consider setting up a helpline for Asian community if required. I am currently studyingfor Basic and Advance Counselling courses with BSY Home study courses
Seema - 8-Jan-18 @ 12:34 PM
I really wanna join a helpline in helping people with suicidal tendencies and traumas. I am educated in this and have been part of this world for quite a long while. I live in Los Angeles and am not sure where to turn for volunteering opportunities. Thank you
Pb - 11-Sep-17 @ 3:56 AM
Sjtotherescue - Your Question:
Hi, I am really interested in volunterring.I had a nasty spinal accident so would need to work from home?? I was a senior practioner supporting teenagers self harm, risk of suicide etc. I have a wealth of experience. I have missed supporting people

Our Response:
Have you tried the Samaritans or other helpline type volunteering? That might suit your background and also be possible to undertake from home.
VoluntaryWorker - 21-Mar-17 @ 10:53 AM
Hi, I am really interested in volunterring..I had a nasty spinal accident so would need to work from home?? I was a senior practioner supporting teenagers self harm, risk of suicide etc. I have a wealth of experience. I have missed supporting people
Sjtotherescue - 18-Mar-17 @ 10:10 AM
Hi, I am intrested to be volunteer in ambulance. I am RGN and I worked in ambulance 15 years and in emergency section another 5 yers in my country in Romania. I love my job and I love to help! But I have an big problem: I don't speak verry good English. Tanks
Criss - 20-May-16 @ 8:52 PM
Hello I would love to volunteer and help anyone in need over the phone I'm in ardmore Oklahoma USA
Niki - 5-Jan-16 @ 4:47 AM
Hi I would like to assist in the Wakefield/ Pontefract area. Working with the homeless helping in any role. Supportingpeople during hard times.
Jules - 29-Nov-15 @ 8:37 AM
@wisdow. We don't organise this ourselves. You should try the Samaritans Volunteer page here. Good Luck.
VoluntaryWorker - 17-Nov-14 @ 10:26 AM
Hello I would like to join your team in becoming a good Samaritans, and to volunteer for a telephone helper. I do know what it's to have no one to talk too, I am happy to take part in what ever your training you offer.
wisdow - 17-Nov-14 @ 1:54 AM
@Gabi. Why not get in touch with Change Birmingham? This is run by volunteer counsellors, they may be able to tell you how to become a volunteer counsellor yourself.
VoluntaryWorker - 12-Nov-14 @ 12:00 PM
Hi I live in the West Midlands Wolverhampton. But I work in Birmingham, I am originally from Birmingham. I am looking to Volunteer, and use my skills, I a qualified counsellor and also a part time student who is studying Counsellinh & Psychotherapeutic Diploma. I would like to volunteer to put something back into the community as I believe we are all coneected in some way. I would like to further my listening skills to. I would really like this opportunity to make a difference in someones life and mine.
Gabi - 11-Nov-14 @ 9:46 AM
hello im enteresting to do volunteering in ryhill or wakefield assisting people there learning dissability or elders thank you.
mammo - 16-Jan-14 @ 2:48 PM
Hello, I have recently moved to the area and am enquiring about possible volunteering opportunities. I am particularly interested in assisting people either personally or on the phone (such as hospice volunteering or telephone helpline) Please could you let me know if there are any opportunities availabe in the area? Many thanks Lisa
Lise - 3-Sep-12 @ 7:52 PM
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