Get Help Header Splice 01Get HelpGet Help Header Splice 03Get HelpGet Help Header Splice 05Support HelpGet Help Header Splice 07HomeGet Help Header Splice 09

Position descriptions

Volunteer Helpline Worker

Skills, Attitude & Knowledge

  • Must be 18 years of age and over. Individuals 17 years old must have peer counselling experience
  • Must be caring, non-judgmental and a good listener
  • Must be able to keep accurate and complete written records of calls
  • Must be willing to undergo initial screening procedures, basic training program and on-going training


  • Speak to distressed callers - utilize active listening, crisis and suicide risk assessment tools and intervention techniques and refer, according to Distress Centre training
  • Keep written records and reports on all incoming and/or outgoing call and write recommendations to supervisor
  • Attend Basic Training, Advanced Training, Team Meetings and In-service workshops to update skills and to remain current on all new and relevant techniques, services etc.
  • Maintain accurate track of and log all volunteer hours contributed
  • Adhere to all the policies and procedures of Distress Centre Durham


  • Basic Training focuses on effective communication, active listening skills (empathy, clarification/paraphrasing, open-ended questions, building confidence, referral/resource info if appropriate, etc.) crisis and suicide risk assessment, theory & techniques in intervention and prevention
  • With a focus on the unique needs of adult learners, the training workshops are delivered using a variety of techniques including training tapes, manuals, group discussion and role-plays
  • Orientation (includes tour of call centre, computer training, introduction to the community resources and referrals database and policy review
  • Advanced Training will enhance active listening and crisis de-escalation skills and offer instruction in stress management techniques
  • In-service Trainings deal with relevant topics of interest to the helpline workers. Attendance is mandatory at 1 per year.

Time Commitment

  • Our volunteer commitment is flexible. For the first year, volunteers will complete 16 hours a month (with 8 of those hours being from 10PM-6AM). After this 200 hour/one-year commitment, the minimum can be reduced to as little as 8 hours a month with no overnight requirement. Volunteers have the opportunity to sign up for their shifts based on their unique schedule.


  • Interpersonal communication, and risk assessment skills which will be of benefit in both personal and professional relationships
  • A detailed letter of reference upon fulfillment of the Volunteer Contract
  • Computer training and an opportunity to work on a data collection and word processing software program
  • An opportunity to transition into other volunteer positions with various Distress Centre Durham services
  • Opportunities to build and develop skills relevant to Human ad Social Service Work


  • Reports to the Director of Volunteer and Suicide Grief Support Services