SOS Help relies on its volunteers to provide our year-round listening service. There are two ways to volunteer: as a listener, you answer the phone and listen to callers, and as a supporter, you help with roles such as logistics, publicity, and general running of SOS Help.
Many volunteer opportunities are available and recruitment sessions are arranged regularly. These sessions enable potential recruits to meet and talk with current volunteers; it’s the best way to find out if you would like to join us.
- Commit to at least 15 months with SOS Help
- Undergo initial training
- Commit to 3 shifts (4 hours each) and 1 ongoing training meeting per month
We conduct new listeners’ training two times per year. Typically the training schedule is as follows:
Saturday morning training session
Double listens (shifts alongside experienced listeners)
Four evening training sessions
A mental health professional will use the training sessions to cover the following:
Introduction to basic listening skills
Self-awareness in interpersonal transactions
Helping caller gain perspective
Distinguishing facts and feelings in communication
Looking at our own support networks
Being guided in how to become effective listeners
How old must I be to be a listener?
You must be 18 or over.
I don’t speak French, can I be a listener for SOS Help?
Yes! All calls are in English and we communicate internally in English. In fact, you must either be a native English speaker or speak clear and fluent English as a second language.
Do I need to live in Paris to be a listener?
You must live in the Paris region so that you are able to reach the listening post.
Where is the listening post located?
It is in the Paris region, close to a metro station. Its location is confidential to those outside the organisation.
Do I get reimbursed for transport costs to get to the post?
No. We cannot reimburse travel costs.
Can I listen from my home?
No. Volunteers must listen at the post.
Do I get a work permit or the right to work in France if I become a listener?
How much time do I have to commit to as a listener?
We ask listeners to commit to 3 listening shifts per month. One shift is 4 hours and there are 2 shifts per day: one from 3pm to 7pm and a second from 7pm to 11pm.
We also ask listeners to attend 1 listener meeting each month, to share their experiences in a group setting facilitated by a psychologist.
We ask that you plan to be living in the Paris area and therefore to listen for at least 1 year following the end of training (in other words approximately 18 months from when you apply).
What does listening involve?
What we do is considered active or empathic listening. We do not offer answers or solutions or give advice. We listen to callers to help them find their own solutions or direction and provide a safe place for them to unburden themselves, share their thoughts or talk through the things that are going on in their lives.
Are listeners alone when they take calls?
Yes. We have one incoming phone line, which means we can take one call at a time.
What kinds of call does SOS Help receive?
We get many kinds of call related to any number of problems including but not limited to:
- Mental illness
- Legal problems
- Culture shock
- Suicidal thoughts
Can I talk to my family and friends about volunteering for SOS Help?
You can tell your family and friends that you volunteer for SOS Help.
However, our confidentiality means we cannot share any details with family or friends even when there are difficult calls. Instead, you may talk to other listeners.
Are there costs associated with being a volunteer for SOS Help?
Benevolent organizations in France are legally obliged to ask their members to pay an annual subscription fee. Therefore, listeners must pay 10 euros per year.
I think I am interested in a listener role, but am not yet certain it’s for me. What shall I do?
If you are not sure, find out more by attending one of our regular introductory sessions. Many SOS Help listeners felt the same at the beginning!
Apart from listening, how else can I support SOS Help?
Aside from being a listener, you can also volunteer as a supporter, helping with roles such as logistics, publicity and the general running of SOS Help. You can also support our work by raising or donating money. Find out more on our website: https://soshelpline.org
The recruitment process
What is the recruitment process?
- Complete a listener application form.
- If successful, you will be invited to an interview with one of our trained volunteers.
- If successful, you will be invited for a second interview with a psychotherapist.
- If successful, you will be invited to take part in the listener training programme.
- On successful completion of the training, you will be invited to become a fully-fledged SOS Help listener member.
The training process
What does the training involve?
Our training programme typically lasts 4 to 5 months and consists of:
- 4 or 5 half-day group training sessions on Saturdays facilitated by a trainer (a professional therapist)
- At least 3 passive and 3 active double listens – double listens are practical training where you attend a shift with an experienced listener. At first you listen to calls and later in your training you answer calls with an experienced listener beside you.
Does completing the training programme automatically mean I become a listener?
Only after completion of this full training programme will a decision will be made as to whether you become a fully-fledged SOS Help listener member.
Friends & Supporters
SOS Help is funded by donations and regular fundraising events. We need help to keep the line open and provide continuing support to our team of Listeners.
Our Friends are an informal network of people who through their enthusiasm helps us raise funds either individually or as part of our ongoing program of events. We hold regular get togethers and keep our Friends informed about our work.