Seren shares how volunteering for Shout 85258 has boosted her confidence and keeps her feeling good.
I open the lid of my laptop and sign into the Shout volunteer platform. It’s Friday night and the queue has already started to build. I click the button: ‘Help another texter.’ A message pops up and I begin to read.
The first time I rang a mental health crisis line, I was thirteen years old. It was one of the most challenging times of my life. I desperately needed to talk to someone about what I was going through.
It was a nerve-wracking experience, but one for which I’ll always be grateful. The volunteer on the other end of the phone was warm, kind and understanding. They listened as no one else had. As I told them my story, there was no judgement. I felt truly listened to, perhaps for the first time.
From that moment, I knew that I wanted to be that person. I wanted to be the one on the other end of the phone.
My main reason for volunteering for Shout was to pay it forward. I wanted to give time, space, and understanding to those who needed it most.
Applying to be a Shout Volunteer
It was always only a matter of time before I started volunteering in the mental health sector. But I knew I needed to be in a better place mentally before I could start helping others. One factor that always played on my mind was having to speak on the phone. It’s never been something I’ve enjoyed, and I wasn’t sure how I’d cope if someone was crying or experiencing a panic attack.
Then, I found Shout.
It meant the world to me when they accepted my volunteer application. The nerves were real, but at the age of 22, I knew it was the right time to fulfil a nearly decade-long ambition.
Volunteering for Shout means I can help people over text. This gives a degree of distance perspective, which is essential for someone as sensitive as me! It means I can help the texter without becoming personally involved.
I can schedule shifts around my full-time job, part-time studying, and chronic illnesses. This is also important as my physical health can be quite volatile.
Connecting with so many brave and resilient people on the platform has been hugely rewarding.
How volunteering for Shout helps my wellbeing
My main reason for volunteering for Shout was to pay it forward. I wanted to provide the same priceless service I’d received all those years ago. I wanted to give time, space, and understanding to those who needed it most.
Having lived with mental illness for most of my life, I know how painful things can get. I also know how invaluable it can be to have a stranger listen and validate what you’re going through.
Connecting with so many brave and resilient people on the platform has been hugely rewarding. I’ve had conversations with people from all kinds of backgrounds, and while their circumstances differ, they have all been astonishingly brave.
It takes enormous courage to text in and ask for support, so it means the world that texters place their trust in me to listen.
The impact volunteering has had on my wellbeing has been huge.
My self-confidence has grown, not only because of the role, but because of the skills I’ve developed along the way. I’ve always been a big listener, but with every shift I do, my active listening skills continue to develop and grow.
There are few better feelings than receiving positive texter feedback, and it’s another element of the role that has massively helped my self-belief. Our texters are often experiencing some of the worst moments of their life; they don’t need to take the time to give us feedback, so when they do, it means a lot.
Support is here when you need it
If you’re considering volunteering for Shout, I would definitely recommend it. The impact you can make on someone is huge. Plus, we always need more kind, compassionate and empathetic people to help out.
Shout is currently looking for night owls who can volunteer from 8pm onwards, if this sounds like you, then find out more about how you can get involved here: https://giveusashout.org/volunteer-shout/
If you need support, we are here for you 24/7.