Spectra Helpline is now 'Distress Centres of Greater Toronto'
For decades, Spectra Helpline (Peel) and Distress Centres (Toronto) have individually championed and executed our aligned missions of ensuring every individual in need of emotional support or crisis intervention has access to life-sustaining care delivered by highly-trained volunteers supported by professional staff.
After careful evaluation and thoughtful consideration, the boards of Spectra Helpline and Distress Centres unanimously voted to merge our respective organizations in an effort to Enhance the Breadth and Expand the Reach of the services that we provide individuals at risk and in their most vulnerable moments. As of May 2019, Spectra Helpline received Canada Revenue Agency confirmation of its merger with Toronto Distress Centres.
We are the leader in multilingual distress line services
We are a non-profit, multicultural organization providing free, caring and confidential distress lines and support services in several languages for the diverse population of the Region of Peel and surrounding area.
Founded in 1973 and run by dedicated staff and trained volunteers, our centres across the GTA provides 24 hour emotional support and distress line service in English every day of the year.
Spectra Helpline's volunteers must complete 50 hours of in-class and on-line training in order to take calls on the distress lines. Our training program focuses on listening skills, values clarification, crisis/suicide prevention/intervention, mental health, understanding sexuality, volunteer development and more.
Spectra Helpline also provides on-going training sessions for current volunteers to keep their skills updated. The primary purpose is to ensure that volunteers feel comfortable in offering non-judgmental emotional support to anyone calling our different programs. We believe that our volunteers make the difference! As a gesture of our appreciation, they are recognized through numerous social occasions.
In order to respond to the growing needs of the diverse community in the Region of Peel, Spectra Helpline has expanded to include distress line and crisis intervention support in various other languages in addition to English, as well as for people with disabilities and the LGBT community. The centre launched distress lines in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu in 2005, Spanish in 2007, Portuguese in 2009. Mandarin and Cantonese distress lines are the latest additions. These specific distress lines are accessible Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
It is forecasted that by 2031, adults 55 years of age and older will make up almost 30 per cent (443,000) of Peel's projected population of 1.5 million people. This represents nearly triple the 2001 older adult population in Peel. Our contribution to assisting this aging population 55+ is our TeleCheck program, initiated in November 2008. This program consists of regular safety check-in and reassurance phone calls by trained volunteers and staff. The main objective is to assist older adults in living at home with dignity, respect, and independence. The TeleCheck program is provided in English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Spanish and Portuguese.