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Volunteer FAQ


Volunteering Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need special qualifications to be a volunteer on the inbound distress and outbound support lines?

A: While we do not look for any specific educational qualifications, there are certain criteria our volunteers are expected to meet:

  • At least 18 years of age

  • A kind and caring heart, patience, empathy and a desire to help those who are struggling in the community

  • To be compassionate and able to provide listening support without judging

  • To be able to accept and respect differences of opinion, values, views and beliefs that may be different from your own

  • Able to complete 22 hours of in-class training, 20 hours of supplementary training materials (i.e., e-book, videos) and 8-12 hours on-the-phones coaching.

  • Able to commit to 16 hours per month (i.e. 100 hours in six months)

  • Payment of a non-refundable training fee

  • Agree to complete the police verification form given by Spectra Helpline or submission of recent police records check from a volunteer organization (i.e. within 6 months of validity period)

  • Agree to abide by and sign Spectra Helpline’s confidentiality agreement

Q: Are there specific shifts that I would have to volunteer?

A. No. You can choose the shifts and days that are most suitable for you. However, we do expect volunteers to provide support to both our inbound distress/helplines, and our outbound support lines.

Q: What type of training would I receive?

A: Spectra uses adult learning practices and incorporates lecture, role-play, scenarios, exercises and supplementary reading into our training program. Post in-class instruction, responders will receive between 8-12 hours of one-to-one on-the-line coaching. All training, coaching and reading assignments are mandatory. Spectra’s training prepares you for your volunteer role, and, is designed in such a way that all the skills learned and knowledge gained can be applied to your day-to-day life – personally and professionally.

Q: Do you have a policy on diversity?

A. Spectra Helpline is an agency whose very foundation rests on the principles of diversity, equity and inclusiveness. We support the Ontario Human Rights Code, and as such are opposed to discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship, colour, creed, disability, ethnic origin, family status, gender expression, gender identity, marital status, place/country of origin, race receipt of public assistance, sex/gender, and sexual orientation. Spectra Helpline’s strength lies in its inclusiveness and diversity in all its services and programs. Applicants will be considered for volunteer positions solely on the basis of skills, aptitude and relevant qualifications for the tasks to be performed. Should you have a disability, we encourage you to identify what support you might need to volunteer. Spectra Helpline wants volunteers that are reflective of the community we serve. We want volunteers from a range of backgrounds and circumstances, because we believe this helps us provide the best service for those who need us. NOTE: Vulnerable sectors involvement or a criminal record will not necessarily preclude a volunteer from their role with Spectra Helpline. Decisions will be made on an individual basis. All information collected will remain confidential.

Q. I’ve been a caller and/or have mental health issues, will this prevent me from volunteering?

A. You can volunteer if you’ve used our services before, and the same is true if you have experience of mental health problems. We recognize that your personal experiences can give you the understanding needed for supporting others. The important thing is that you’re self-aware, in the right place in your life to be able to support others, and know when you need to ask for support, or take a break. When you apply to be a volunteer, we won’t specifically ask if you’ve used Spectra Helpline services before, or about any mental health diagnoses you may have had. We’ll ask you why you want to volunteer with Spectra Helpline, about any time when you’ve been distressed or down, and to think about how this affected you and what you did to cope. We’ll ask you to think about how your past experiences could impact on your support for others.

Q. I actually just need a placement for my course. Can I do this at Spectra Helpline?

A. It takes time to develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need for supporting our clients and callers, which means that this role is not appropriate for those looking for short-term placements. We invest a significant amount of time and energy in selecting, training and supporting volunteers and students, so we’re looking for people who can meet our minimum requirements. Student placements are determined each spring. For more information contact Volunteer Resources at: 289.569.1200 or Spectra does have support role opportunities for those who want to volunteer for shorter periods of time, such as helping out with fundraising events or community outreach and awareness.

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