If you are considering setting up a volunteer service to provide emotional support to the distressed and suicidal, there are some important points to consider:
Identify the Need
- Who are the potential users of the service?
- What are the local needs within the area?
- What is the suicide rate in your catchment area?
- Which other agencies would have contact with callers?
- What facilities already exist for people in distress? (e.g. telephone helplines, email helplines, drop-in centres); How adequate are they?
Involving the Local Community
- Who could lend professional support? (e.g. social workers, community workers, psychiatrists, health workers, lawyers)
- Are there other non-governmental or voluntary organisations with which you could collaborate? (e.g. working with older people, youth, disabled people, AIDS affected)
- Is there a large enough group of people in the locality from which to recruit potential volunteers?
- Is there potential to raise money to set up and maintain a service?
What Types of Service?
- Telephone helpline
- Emotional support service by correspondence (letter)
- Emotional support service by email
- Emotional support service by text (SMS)
- Outreach programmes in the community
- Combination of the above
Planning a Service
You Need to do the Following:
- Form a group to explore the idea
- Identify financial resources
- Form a committee to get things started
- Legally register the service
- Identify, design and furnish premises
- Select, recruit and train volunteers
- Advertise the service to potential callers
- Recruit sufficient volunteers to sustain a sustainable service
You Need to:
- Establish the need for a service (use the checklist below to help you do this)
- Be confident of, and be able to demonstrate, your ability to set up a sustainable service
- Obtain sufficient funds to set up and maintain the service
Download a checklist of considerations for setting up a helpline (.pdf)
Download a Planning Framework for the establishment of a new service (.pdf)
See also our Guiding Policies and Practice paper (.pdf)