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Setting up an Emotional Support Service

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:-