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Becoming a volunteer

Listening to someone else's life can change yours!

It's 11:00pm on a dark and rainy night, a young woman is up alone sobbing, eyes locked on a bottle of pills, not knowing what to do next or who she can turn to. Finally, in desperation she decides to reach out to someone. She realizes that maybe she's not yet ready to die and is looking for someone who is strong enough to stand beside her in this time of need.

...the phone rings at Distress Centre Durham's 24 hour helpline and a small whimpering voice says, "I can't do this anymore ... please help me"

Can you help us ensure a caring, empathetic and well trained volunteer will answer her call?

How do I become a helpline worker with Distress Centre Durham?

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Distress Centre Durham. We carefully select: empathetic, non-judgmental, responsible individuals 18 and over to answer our helpline. The Centre operates 24 hours a day - seven days a week and offers callers emotional support , crisis de-escalation, community referrals and emergency intervention when necessary.

We handle approximately 8000 calls a year and in February of 2007 we also added a new community contact call-out program. Individuals who can benefit from ongoing emotional support on a regular basis can be scheduled to receive calls from DCD as a way to promote emotional health and connection to his / her community, thereby preventing many types of crisis.

You have already started the process to become a helpline volunteer! Continue exploring the website, fill out and submit an online application package. Once we receive your completed application, we schedule a telephone interview followed by a face to face registration meeting to pick up your training manual. The next step is our mandatory 2-part training workshop. These back to back sessions are held from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm several times a year (see Training Schedule for a complete list of dates). Training is provided on the following topics:

  • Active listening
  • Risk assessment
  • Crisis De-escalation
  • Crisis & suicide intervention & prevention techniques
  • Grief and loss
  • Setting and maintaining boundaries

Helpline Worker Screening Criteria

Not every individual who applies to become a Distress Centre Helpline Worker is suited to the unique demands of the position. Click here for more detailed screening criteria.

Helpline Worker Certification Policy

Only those trainees who satisfactorily demonstrate the skills, knowledge and attitudes outlined in the certification policy are eligible to join the Distress Centre Durham team of Helpline Workers. Click here for our detailed certification policy.

Personal and Professional Benefits

Click here for more details on the personal and professional benefits of volunteering.

Time commitment

New 2016 Our volunteer commitment is four shifts (16 hours) a month for our telephone program or 3 shifts (12 hours a month for our online program. This includes 8 hours of overnights for the telephone program or 4 hours of overnights for the online program. Volunteers have the opportunity to sign up for their shifts based on their unique schedule.

We look forward to receiving your application form and to meeting with you personally.