Jennifer is a postgraduate psychology student in New Zealand with a long term goal of becoming a registered psychologist.
After looking for real-life experiences to build on her studies, Jennifer became a Shout Volunteer.
In her own words, Jennifer explains just how beneficial volunteering has been for her personal growth, and shares the skills she’s learned to apply in her day-to-day life, including some self-care along the way.
[...] gaining real-life experience working with people who are distressed and in need of support is a crucial part of developing further skills and experience.
What made you decide to become a Shout Volunteer?
I’ve been studying psychology part-time for the last few years, with the long-term goal of becoming a registered psychologist. Now that I’ve reached postgraduate study, gaining real-life experience working with people who are distressed and in need of support is a crucial part of developing further skills and experience. I believe volunteer work is incredibly important, so I’m glad to be able to give some of my time to others in a meaningful way.
What do you find most rewarding about being a Shout Volunteer?
After finishing a shift, I always feel satisfied that I’ve played a small part in supporting people who need it. In some conversations, texters say thank you for listening, and that’s incredibly rewarding too.
Learning to accept that we need to meet texters where they are, not where we feel they should be, has been a really important lesson for me.
What are some of the challenges you've experienced?
Some conversations are incredibly difficult, particularly when texters are feeling really desperate but also aren’t willing to engage much in conversation. Most conversations I’ve had don’t follow a smooth trajectory and learning to accept that we need to meet texters where they are, not where we feel they should be, has been a really important lesson for me.
How do you find working for a UK based organisation and supporting UK texters from New Zealand?
Because our conversations are by text/computer, there’s a certain amount of distance anyway, but the human connection is still there. I think I’d feel the same if the texters were in New Zealand.
The time difference works well for us too; my favourite time to take a shift is 9am, which is night-time in the UK and when the number of texters starts to increase.
Have you been able to use any of the training or skills you've developed as a Shout Volunteer in your day-to-day and/or professional life?
On a personal level, the emphasis on listening and validating people's feelings has been useful in interacting with my family - this is such a great skill to have in any conversation.
Would you recommend becoming a Shout Volunteer? Why?
Definitely! Shout is an incredibly supportive and well-resourced organisation. Both training and taking shifts are flexible so you can work around your schedule and having access to further training and resources is a huge plus.
I've really appreciated the emphasis that Shout training places on self-care. We often talk about this but it takes a lot of effort to stop and actually think about it. This made me properly stop and think about my own wellbeing before and after shifts. It's a cliche but it's true - you can't care for others if you don't care for yourself.
I’ve really appreciated the emphasis that Shout training places on self-care. [...] It’s a cliche, but it’s true - you can’t care for others if you don’t care for yourself.