Helen has been volunteering for the Samaritans for 19 years. This is an extract from an interview with her where she explains why she continues to be a part of the organisation.
I find it very rewarding, and I also find it strangely un-stressful just to listen to people. Mostly in life, when your friends tell you things, you feel responsible for them, but this has taught me not to feel so responsible for people, because we believe that the responsibility for choices lies with the caller. So once I’d been trained to understand that it wasn’t for me to make decisions for the caller or guide them, but simply to be there for them and listen to them and allow them to feel whatever it was they were feeling, and to completely accept that, it was quite a liberating thing, and it’s very useful in other areas of life.
There’s also a great sense of bonding with people you’re doing the work with. I said that it was relaxing, but I suppose that’s not quite what I meant – it’s quite stressful sometimes, because of the things that you hear, but the level of support here is very high, and so you’re never on your own. It’s quite a bonding thing, particularly as the volunteers are of all ages, and you meet people here through volunteering that you’d never meet through any other walk of life. And I find that fun, actually, as well.