by Pam Jenkinson Café Project Worker
When someone wants to volunteer with our Night Light team there are several ways that they can get involved. The majority of our volunteers opt to join a café team, where they meet with our guests face to face and go on a team rota. However, sometimes one of our volunteers offers to become a phone volunteer. We really value these people because they support us weekly, making calls to some of our most vulnerable guests and are the consistent support that they need when they are going through a difficult time.
Joan is one of our phone volunteers and I asked her firstly where she heard about Night Light and what made her want to volunteer for the project. She said:-
I first heard about Night Light from a friend who volunteers in one of the cafe’s. Since retiring I have been volunteering for a few good causes including Lincolnshire Counselling and being chair of our local Patient Participation Group (PPG).
After being in HR for most of my working life, when I retired I thought my skills would be useful in society to help people not so fortunate as myself, also it gave me something, it enabled me to feel that all my hard work and training didn’t come to an abrupt end.
I asked Joan why she had specifically chosen to be a phone volunteer:-
I liked the idea of doing the telephone calls because whilst you get a rapport with individuals you do not become emotionally involved which may happen if you met them face to face. I can walk past them and they don’t know you. I felt it was important not to use my name as it isn’t common and that might be another way of finding out who I am.
Joan and I then chatted about what impact she feels Night Light is having on people who are struggling with their mental health?
I hope that my communication will help them see the issues from a different point of view, not always sympathising but showing empathy. When I have communication with the same person every week you do get to know them and often they see you as a friend. At times I do feel as though I would like to be more hands on but know from past experience that is not advisable. If I can help by providing further direction for them to seek help and be a good listener that is my objective. When I get off the phone I feel that the individual is more uplifted than when they answered the phone, but I do wonder how long it lasts and we need more volunteers to continue the communication.
Joan is such an inspirational volunteer and so appreciated in our team. Finally I asked her what she would say to someone who was maybe considering volunteering with Night Light Cafe, she answered:-
I would say give it a go, what have you got to lose and the help can be invaluable to the person on the other end of the phone. Cries for help come in all forms and a few hours out of your day can make all the difference to them and give you a reward and sense of fulfilment.
Thank you Joan and all our wonderful volunteers, we could not run Night Light without you!
If you would like to know more about Night Light Café or would be interested in volunteering with us then contacts us via the Acts Trust website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org