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HELPLINE VOLUNTEERS

Requirements to be a Volunteer with Spectra

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Requirements to be a Volunteer with Spectra

To ensure volunteers are fully equipped to effectively manage our various support lines, they are carefully screened and are required to complete comprehensive training before starting on the lines. Spectra does not require any specific educational/professional qualifications, however 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 Compassionate and able to provide listening support without judging
  • 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), 8 to 12 hours on-the-phones coaching
  • 
Able to commit to 16 hours per month (i.e. 100 hours in six months)
  • Agree to complete the police verification form given by Spectra Helpline, or submission of a 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
  • 
Payment of a non-refundable training fee

 

Special Language Skills Needed

Spectra provides our programs and services in 7 languages other than English. Currently we are seeking volunteers who can understand and speak fluently in the following languages:

Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.

 

 

Volunteer Training Program

Spectra Helpline provides a comprehensive training program to all its volunteers. Our training prepares volunteers to handle both incoming calls and outgoing calls for our various programs and services. In-class training sessions take place year round and are delivered in eight 3-hour modules.

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.

Spectra Helpline’s curriculum includes:

  • Active Listening
  • Values
  • Diversity and Cultural Competency
  • Sexuality (LGBTQ)
  • Mental Health
  • Addiction
  • Anger
  • Abuse (including Elder Abuse)
  • Crisis and Suicide Assessment and Intervention
  • Self-Care

Mandatory supplementary readings are assigned for each module. Further, additional supplementary readings include the following topics: Parenting and postpartum; Grief, death and dying; and Violence.

 

Benefits of becoming a Spectra Helpline volunteer

When you volunteer with Spectra Helpline, you will be living Spectra’s mission every second you’re on the lines. With every call you’ll ease emotional suffering, and save lives.

Help Others

  • Give back to the community
  • Help others, help themselves
  • Help those with mental health issues cope, and feel less stigmatized
  • Change peoples’ lives (including your own)
  • Save peoples’ lives

Learn About Your Community And Neighbours

  • Increase knowledge and understanding of prevalent issues and challenges faced by many in our community; developing greater social awareness
  • Improve your understanding of individual differences by being exposed to people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, races, ages, and abilities, etc.
  • Increase your awareness of the special needs and circumstances of others
  • Enhance your knowledge of community resources and services
  • Develop a stronger sense of belonging

Improve Interpersonal And Communication Skills

  • Develop new listening and communication skills you can use in all aspects of your life (i.e. both professionally and personally)
  • Increase your self-awareness
  • Improve your understanding of your own personal strengths, values and beliefs IMPROVE HOW YOU HANDLE CRISIS
  • Learn crisis/suicide assessment and intervention skills
  • Develop patience and an empathetic approach to dealing with those in crisis
  • Increase personal comfort level when interacting with those in crisis

Help Obtain Your Goals

  • Improve your resume
  • Support academic learning with real-life experience
  • Explore and clarify your goals, in terms of career/job/new experience
  • Have the opportunity to network and meet new people

Feel Good

  • Just re-read this list

 

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 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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