The power of listening: Maisy's volunteering story
Six months ago, 19 year old Maisy Addison decided that she wanted to make a positive change to her life. Then she found out about volunteering with the Samaritans of Taunton and Somerset, a charity which offers emotional support to anyone who needs it. She applied straight away and soon realised that volunteering was exactly what she needed. In this blog, she explains why:
“I knew I wanted to do something to help others as I would like to work with people in my future career. I then found out about volunteering with the Samaritans. I had always thought that it was something someone my age couldn’t do, but as soon as I saw how easy it was to apply, I immediately did and was lucky enough to get an interview straight away.
“I was offered a role as a Volunteer Listener and before I began taking calls, I received excellent training to make sure I was comfortable and aware of the different types of enquiries and situations that might arise. I was then paired with another Samaritan, Alistair, who mentored me for a couple of months and supported me on my first real call. I owe my Samaritan progress to my amazing trainers and mentor who have gone out of their way to make sure I was comfortable and confident.
“Since becoming a volunteer with the Samaritans, I have found myself thinking more selflessly and realising that everyone has their own story, and that you never truly know what is going on in someone else’s life.
"I find myself looking forward to my shifts because the feeling you get when you have helped make a stranger feel better by just listening to them is indescribable.
“I would recommend that others - especially the younger generation like myself - volunteer, because you will never find anything that will give you the same rewarding feeling of being a Samaritan. By offering a small amount of time where you can, you can give back to society and be there for people when they need it most.
“I think some people feel like volunteering is not for them, or that it's time-consuming, but it's a beautiful thing to do and genuinely rewards you in ways nothing else can.
“At the end of a shift, I always debrief with the leader. This is when I tell them what types of calls I received. Debriefing is great, because if I have taken a particularly difficult call, telling the leader about how it has made me feel means I don't take things home with me. The community of volunteers at Samaritans is supportive and caring. You never feel alone or like you can’t talk to someone because there is always somebody to reach out to, even when you are not on shift.”
“The Samaritans rely on people to volunteer as listeners so that they can be available to take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anyone who is willing to give up a little bit of their time helps keep the service going.”
Alistair Hallows, Trainer and Vice-director at Samaritans of Taunton and Somerset, was Maisy's mentor. He said:
"In her short time with us, Maisy has been a breath of fresh air and we have all been impressed by her resilience, reflective nature, and determination to overcome obstacles to progress.
"She worked closely with colleagues in her training group, mostly in quite distinct stages of their respective careers, and engaged well with demanding training sessions and skills practice.
"Since completing the course, Maisy has moved onto the phones, firstly supervised by an experienced mentor with whom she struck up a super relationship. She is now fulfilling her share of shifts each month and working more autonomously. We have been very impressed with her so far and hope she will continue to thrive as a member of our team."
If you would like to join the Samaritans as a Listening Volunteer, like Maisy, click the link below to find out how.
If you are in need of emotional support, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123, available 24/7.