I've done various volunteering roles over the years.
I started out doing various stuff with my church. worked at an op shop for a few years, involved with mental health consumer advocacy and now I volunteer at an art studio that works with people with various disabilities. it's so fun.
This is what I did today
Trying to make my misery
just a piece of my history
A little less victim a little more victory
-Icon for Hire
@letitgo there are plenty of volunteering alternatives to Lifeline where you can develop your crisis counselling as well, if you find Lifeline's fees a bit too steep. Places like the Schizophrenia Fellowship and Butterfly Foundation have their own helplines (specializing in schizophrenia and eating disorders, respectively), as does Salvos. I'm not too sure whether the places I've mentioned charge training fees as it's been a while since I last checked, but they're worth a look if you're intent on volunteering with a helpline.
I can't guarantee that the training is likely to be as good as what you might get at Lifeline though, since Lifeline is kind of the "gold standard" within the industry, and from the Lifeline info-sesions I've been to, their training definitely seems very comprehensive. That being said, training isn't the end-all and be-all of providing crisis support*, so it's not like you're necessarily disadvantaged by getting your training elsewhere.
*: For instance, there's also your personality to take into consideration- how readily can you shed your ego and beliefs for someone else? There may come a time as a crisis supporter when you have to console a bully, a cheater or a domestic abuser (or worse). How do you get past that, so that you're still providing them with the same quality of care as you would for everyone else?
As for what I've done personally- I've sold merch for a number of charities, provided crisis support at crisis helpline for local uni students, given speeches to youth as a mental health advocate, and helped design health and organizational policy (as well as resources and interventions) for non-profits and multilaterals as a youth consultant. I was a program coordinator for the St. Vincent de Paul Society at my uni's branch, and I help out with my uni's photography society as well, where I've designed and taught workshops, set up sponsorships and a new volunteering program for members looking to break into the event photography industry.
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