Day 44 of 100 Days

Sarah Swaysland

Saturday, 13th February 2021

I have levelled-up! On this evening’s Shout shift, I took my 100th conversation, which means I’m now a Level 5 volunteer! I’m incredibly proud of this, as when I first started volunteering with Shout, 100 conversations seemed like such a long way away...

What: Crisis Volunteering
Organisation: Shout 85258

When I first started with Shout, I was spending about an hour on each conversation – sometimes more. The optimal time is about 45 minutes so you can work through the texter’s issue and get them feeling like they are in a better place in a relatively short space of time. If you spend too long with a texter, you might end up going round in circles and this can be counterproductive – it’s not empowering for the texter to dwell on their issues for too long without at least coming up with some kind of action plan to help them cope with how they’re feeling. At the beginning, I was also really heavy on the empathy, when I needed to be more compassionate. I now find it a lot easier to be there for the texters, but I’m not going through each and every emotion with them. Day shifts fitted in quite well with what I was doing at when I first started volunteering with Shout, but I now find myself doing evenings because they’re busier and I’m a lot more confident when talking to people and helping them through their problems. It also gives my partner an opportunity to relax and have a break. I’ve experienced a real gain in confidence as I’ve progressed through this volunteer role and I feel so encouraged by that.

The Shout shifts are never boring, and most of the time, as you join a texter on their journey, you end up reaching a place of contentment with your texter, which makes you feel really good (when they feel better about themselves). I always feel so supported by the supervisor on each shift, as they drop in and out of the chat box to check-in on how you’re doing. I still also get the odd email from my coach, Leila, who oversaw my training to see how I’m doing. What’s weird is that I’ve spoken to so many people through the Shout platform (as in fellow volunteers and supervisors), yet I can’t visualise any of them and I can’t imagine I’ll ever meet any of them, which is a shame because I think they’d be really nice.

On the back of a very successful musical shift on my last Shout session, I returned to my Sony Walkman and started off the shift with some more musical theatre (well, it’s a musical soundtrack) with The Greatest Showman. Love Hugh Jackman, and yes, Zac Efron. It got terrible reviews at the cinemas, and I can see why, but I find it really easy to listen to – and it’s quite energising. As is the nature of listening to stuff in alphabetical order, it then went onto The Gruffalo as read by Imelda Staunton (which we put on so we could play it for our son in the car – he frickin loves it). This I had to skip because it was really distracting, so I quickly skipped on to Tommy by The Who quite quickly (sticking with the musicals theme). Then it went into Total Life Forever by The Foals, which was really good for working to – I hadn’t really listened to them that much, but I enjoyed it. Then it went onto Total: from Joy Division to New Order. It’s so easy to completely immerse yourself in Joy Division, I absolutely love their sound, but I always reflect sadly on what could have been for Ian Curtis. He was such a talent and he died so young.

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