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02 July 2024

Volunteering with Shout has helped me in life and work - here’s how it could help your organisation

Lou is a Shout Volunteer who has taken almost 6,000 conversations with texters in distress. She recently spoke to Shout partners wagamama and The Restaurant Group about how volunteering can be beneficial, both as an individual and as a powerful experience to share with colleagues.

When I first started volunteering, I guessed I had some of the expertise and competencies that might stand me in good stead to support a texter in crisis. I wanted to fill a gap that had arisen out of a change in work circumstances, as well as deepen and broaden my experience. I was also keen to give something back.


Five years down the line, Shout is very much a part of who I am. I’ve met some extraordinary people and am humbled and inspired by their contributions and personal stories of how they came to be volunteers.

Volunteering has given me so many opportunities to learn and be encouraged by knowledgeable supervisors and coaches. I’ve listened to texters whose issues and trust have enabled me to see the bigger picture. I see now this is all about being part of a team. It’s more enriching than I’d anticipated. The support and purpose is collective.

As a Shout Volunteer it’s possible to grow in so many ways:

  • Practical skills: You’ll be provided with a toolkit of practical skills to use on the Shout platform, which are also valuable life skills that you’ll find useful in a working environment of any kind.
  • Team building: Volunteering for Shout as part of your organisation’s initiative is likely to be a team building experience and a powerful anchor for your group. It’s about having commonality - something everyone is part of.
  • Motivational: In the broadest sense, being part of Shout is motivational. Creating an opportunity to put pause on your day to day and navigate a problem with someone else can be hugely fulfilling.
  • Confidence boosting: When you see the impact you can have on someone’s mental wellbeing, it can be a great confidence booster.


This role reminds you you’re trusted. You’re worthwhile and you make a difference.

For me, confidence isn’t something others might see – it’s about the way I feel. I’ve developed expertise in mental health issues and with that comes an ability to multitask and be curious. I’m more aware of perspectives and concerns and I think it’s made me more sure of who I am and what I’m about.

  • It’s healthy: There is power in helping others and studies show that by boosting your mood and empathy, volunteering can be good for your immune system and is linked to better physical, mental and emotional health. Being part of a team provides social connection and can reduce stress, depression and isolation.
  • Patience: Learning to be alongside someone when they are struggling and meet them where they are means we learn a sense of patience. It’s key to be flexible – logistically and in your thinking. This has to be a positive when it comes to working alongside others. Taking a step back and listening, rather than jumping in to fix or questioning is the sweet spot for empowering texters, and can give a sense of satisfaction in the workplace too.
  • Learn to ask for help: What I’ve learned most from texters is that it’s not just ok, but that it’s a game changer, to ask for help in whatever circumstances. That is a tool you can take on board for yourself: it’s always ok to ask for support at work and in life.

Coming on board, you’ll meet and encounter some amazing mental health advocates.

Indeed, you might become one and this could be positive for the workplace. Intuitively, you’ll tune in to articles and media related to wellbeing. You can lean into the help of others when they show enthusiasm or energy for positive mental wellbeing. You can become an empathetic team.

It’s ok to see each shift as a learning opportunity – the diversity of conversations and texters means every day is different and that’s refreshing. You can take something from every conversation and there’s a wealth of support available in real-time, from other volunteers, peer supporters and supervisors. That attitude can translate into everyday life as well.

But surely, it’s not that easy?

Sometimes the sense of reward doesn’t come immediately after a shift or conversation, but this is about growth and being given an opportunity to learn. That’s invigorating in itself. And if you’re doing this as part of a team, you’re likely to feel more in tune and aligned with your colleagues because you’re undertaking this together.

Managing risk and feeling comfortable with that can be a challenge – you’re hearing about what some people go through and how they feel – and while sometimes that can be tough, you’re always supported by an incredible group of supervisors. It’s possible for this experience to build a sense of resilience which can in turn bring calm to any chaos. In a work setting, being resilient is a brilliant skill to maintain.

On the platform, it’s ok to give yourself space and allow people to know you have boundaries. That’s part of the training we receive as volunteers. It’s fine to acknowledge differences in all settings. After all, the importance of you being able to respect others and deliver your role is key to your own success and that of the team.


Motivationally, we’re all in a different place day in, day out. It’s hard on some days to be part of something like this, but having a common ground, a talking point, a sense of purpose that is helping someone out, is incredibly empowering.

Knowing that there are other people around you, sharing this volunteering experience at the same time as you (although you can’t speak about the details of any one chat) is bound to bring you together.

A reminder that you matter most

Joining Shout allows you to focus on yourself in a way that you might not currently. Checking in with others is a reminder of your own selfcare. It’s a way to deepen compassion for others and for you – you have permission and are encouraged to look after your own wellbeing – and that’s got to be good from a team perspective. Because with that, your energy levels grow.

Learn more and apply to volunteer.