Back in the summer, I heard that the lovely people at Niteline were looking for volunteers, and I was interested in getting involved with an organisation that is helping so many students. I joined the organisation and began training in August, albeit under much different circumstances with coronavirus! The training took place on Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday for three hours at a time to learn the various skills needed to provide the service. The first session was nerve-wracking, as I did not know anyone at the training and was not sure what to expect. Quickly I realised that I had nothing to be afraid of! The three trainers were super kind and welcoming, as were all my fellow trainees. Of course looking back I should have guessed that an organisation of people who want to help other students are a kind bunch!
Our first call was mainly to break the ice. There were only ten new volunteers, so we quickly managed to get to know one another! We played games to learn random facts about each other and bond. I did not know it at the time, but some of the people I met on that first call would turn out to be close friends a mere few months later. We learned skills such as active listening and using an appropriate tone, as well as self care to ensure we can be in the best headspace for answering calls.
One of the best things about the training was role-playing calls with a more experienced volunteer. We were given feedback with how we could improve, which was really helpful. This meant that we could practise with people we did not know as well as in the relaxed training call context. In total I completed 8 training sessions, totalling 24 hours of training, and various additional practise calls on top of that.
While this is a lot of training, there was a really positive social side to it. All the new volunteers bonded quickly together from talking in breakout rooms, and we even managed to meet up when restrictions were lifted! The training was a fantastic experience, as it took me from being nervous and unsure of myself to feeling confident I could handle any call that came my way.