What is it like to be a Listener for SOS Help? One of our Listeners tells us…
How long have you been an SOS Help Listener?
I have been listening with SOS Help for 3 years. When I moved to France I knew it was important to find a new purpose in my life. I looked around for volunteering opportuniDes and aEended an informaDon event to find out more about SOS Help.
What training did you have to do?
The recruitment and training were thorough and pushed me to think long and hard about whether this was something I wanted to do. It was not going to be easy and it was important that I could make a long-term commitment. From the very start I was impressed by the people giving their Dme to SOS Help. The training took place over several months with a qualified psychologist and an experienced listener. It included lots of pracDcal role play. It was a great way to get to know my fellow trainees, I felt I was becoming part of a team. Some people decided not to conDnue with the training: being a Listener does not suit everyone and some people chose to support our work in other ways.
What does listening involve?
I volunteer three Dmes a month for a four hour shiL. Each shiL is different. Some calls are very similar, some are very difficult. You never know what is coming next. Some people just need to talk about their day. Others need to talk about the situaDons they are dealing with. Many people need to talk about their feelings: people can be very distressed and in a very dark place. I also aEend a monthly support group. This has helped me improve my listening and conDnues to give me support with calls I find distressing. It is natural to want to help other people and our first insDnct is to want to offer pracDcal support and advice. I have learnt that this is oLen not what people need, more than anything they need to be listened to. You need to listen for what the caller is feeling and help them explore and express their feelings. It feels so good when this works and the fear and anxiety you iniDally hear in a caller’s voice slowly disappears and their mood improves.
What would you say to those interested in being a Listener?
I am glad I decided to become a Listener. We offer an important service to anglophones in France who need to talk. Listening is not for everyone, as it can be difficult and emoDonally draining, but it is also hugely rewarding when you end a call feeling the caller is in a beEer place because you have listened to them.
Listening at SOS Help in figures
€15 pays for the cost of running our Listening Post for one day
€50 euros pays for a Listener’s monthly support session with a qualified counsello
€150 euros pays for the training of a new Listener
To help us provide our listening service, or if you are interested in becoming a Listener for SOS Help, go to the bottom of the page.