CONNECT is a helpline that opened in 2001 and is part of the organisation Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service. They are an emotional support and information telephone and online service who support people in crisis as well as providing day to day support to people in the Leeds area who aren’t necessarily in crisis, but are using them as on-going emotional contact.
Tony Lambert, Connect Helpline Support Worker says “Our service has always functioned because of the fantastic service and support of volunteers. We feel we are going from strength to strength and as well as supporting people on the phone we offer an online service too, an instant messenger type function which can be used via our website.”
Volunteers are required to assist people via the helpline one evening a week from 7-11pm. The role entails supporting people in emotional distress who may just want a chat, have a particular problem or may even feel suicidal. Volunteers undertake 4 days training initially and the next training course is booked in October with another one to follow in January. The helpline is based in LS8, and transport home is provided for volunteers. Connect want to help people develop personally and professionally and further training in various aspects of mental health and support are available throughout the year. The service is survivor led, so it is beneficial if volunteers can relate to times in their lives when they have suffered some form of emotional distress. This is a broad requirement, as most people have gone through tough times at some point in their life. Connect feel that this enables volunteers to better relate to the people using the service. Clients enter the service through self – referral. They may have heard about the service through a health professional or word of mouth, or via the website.
Tony adds “We provide support within the philosophy of the person-centred approach, a humanistic “way of being” which views each person as an expert upon themselves and trusts that we as humans can develop and grow given the right conditions. Those conditions are compassion, understanding and genuineness. We pay travel expenses and after 6 months service we can provide volunteers with a reference. The vast majority of our paid supervisors were volunteers on the helpline before applying for jobs.”
If you would like to volunteer or would like further information, please contact Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service on:
Tel: 0113 2609328. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit their website: www.lslcs.org.uk