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Anna always had the urge to support & help others, but with military life and a small family, she struggled to find the time to focus and commit. Until she found SHOUT. A 24/7 text only service which allows the freedom to fit around your life whilst providing essential support to those in times of crisis. Read her inspiring story here.

What do you volunteer for?

I volunteer for a charity called Shout. Shout launched in May 2019 as a free 24/7 text messaging service for anyone struggling to cope. Shout is powered by its volunteers and currently has over 2000 empathetic volunteers who have undergone our unique and comprehensive training in order to support texters.

What’s your typical shift like?

A typical shift for me with Shout  tends to be 1 day a week giving up 2 hours of my free time. During these hours I am dealing with a variety of different Texters who are struggling to cope. The most common issues which emerge during a conversation are: suicide (34%), depression (34%), anxiety (32%), relationship (27%), loneliness (18%) and self-harm (15%).

What type of person do you need to be to volunteer?

To volunteer for Shout I believe you need to be kind, caring, patient, willing to listen and be non judgemental. I also believe you need to show warmth and empathy, being able to put your own views aside as you meet the texter where they are with their issues. It is important as a volunteer that you are able to take on board feedback as this is provided throughout your Shout journey and also being able to work as part of a team. Being a Shout volunteer means you will often collaborate with our Clinical Supervisors.

How did you become a volunteer?

I became a Shout Volunteer in December 2019. I first wanted to volunteer to help people a long time ago but with having a young family and at the time being in the military I found it hard to commit to volunteering. One day I decided to search the internet to see if there was anything I could do from home to help other people with their own mental health and I stumbled across Shout. At first I was nervous to apply as I wasn’t sure if I was the right type of person to volunteer but after some thinking and reflecting I decided to go for it. The next part of my journey was 6 weeks training to help equip me with the tools needed to engage with people over Text messages. We all know that setting the tone right is a hard thing to do in written communication but the training helped me start to build the right skills.

What are the personal and professional benefits to being a volunteer?

The personal benefits to me is that I am achieving my own goal I set for myself a long time ago which was to help people. Knowing that after a shift no matter how tough, I was there for someone who had nowhere to go and that fills me with warmth. The professional benefits for me are that it has helped me with my written communication and helped me to enter the Mental Health Sector which was one of my main professional goals.

What are the personal challenges to being a volunteer?

Volunteering can be challenging and some conversations can sit with you for sometime. It’s important to reach out to your support network during these times. Whilst volunteering for Shout from the get go you will have a dedicated Coach who will be there to offer support and guidance throughout your Shout journey as a volunteer.

How does it fit within military life?

Volunteering fitted in with my military life due to being able to commit to shifts at any time of the day as Shout is there for people 24 hours a day, being able to do this from the comfort of my own home also helped as there was no travelling to a call centre for example. Sometimes I worked irregular shift patterns so that meant some weeks I could volunteer at 0400 or 1600. It really was whatever time and day suited me that week. Although regular volunteering helps us keep on track sometimes that is impossible and Shout gives you that flexibility.

For more information about becoming a SHOUT volunteer, click here.

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