Our online and telephone listening services are completely anonymous and confidential. This means we hide the identity of our listener volunteers to ensure our standards of confidentiality are maintained.
The following article has been written by one of our listening volunteers. Read their story.
We all lead busy lives in some way or other and in the midst of our current technological disengagement, there is something we don’t seem to have much time for…to stop for a moment and talk to and listen to each other.
Having said that, on our precious Rock we gladly never seem to lose our sense of community, our generosity and our passion to help a fellow human being in times of need.
Being there to lend a supportive ear to whoever needs it is something rather special and I’m delighted to share with you how rewarding my experience with GibSams has been.
It was just over 2 years ago that I wanted to find a way of helping out in the community by volunteering with a local charity. Coincidentally, I saw that GibSams were planning to launch and were searching for volunteers. Having a demanding full time job and seeing that GibSams may need volunteers outside of regular working hours, this sounded like a great opportunity to consider.
Volunteer selection day
I registered my interest and went along to a volunteer selection day in which I found out more about the service. The room was full of like-minded people from all backgrounds, who much like myself, had turned up nervous yet excited. While many of us had arrived alone, wondering what to expect, by the end of a rather enjoyable day, we left full of motivation and new friends.
I learned that there are many ways of helping out in GibSams so if you want to help out but not as a listening volunteer, other roles are available and any help is welcomed. I was most interested in joining the listening team and couldn’t wait to find out if I’d been selected. A couple of days later I received the call, I was going through to training!
The training itself was conducted on Saturdays over a 5 week period covering challenging subject matter which made me ponder concepts I’d never before considered. All of us in the training were being provided all the skills required to prepare us to support a caller including many practice sessions where we could put our newfound skills to the test. I can honestly say that the amazing training enabled me not only to learn new skills, but to strengthen my approach towards interactions in general.
Build lasting friendships
But the benefits of my experience so far didn’t stop there. Putting aside the training content for a moment, a very important recurring factor continued to manifest itself throughout as the weeks went by and which continues to this day, the support. The mere fact that all the individuals present, attend of their own free will and time to help others, creates incredible unity and family-like bond. I quickly became friends with the training team and fellow volunteers alike, which many would have thought to have been that of a pre-existing friendship. At the end of week 5, we all celebrated our friendships and efforts by gathering around for a group lunch before leaving for the day. And then came the wait to find out if I’d been successful and would become a listening volunteer.
Of course I wouldn’t be sharing my story if I had not been successful. I received the call with the good news and couldn’t wait to get started. It may sound like an odd statement to make considering the voluntary work was to answer the telephone to persons who may be in distress, but I was so eager to help out in such an invaluable manner I couldn’t wait to pick up the phone.
After taking my very first call, I knew that all the effort and hours devoted were worth it, time that doesn’t cost me anything but might just mean the world to the person on the other end of the line. The thought of being there to listen to and support someone who may feel alone, was an absolute honour. That one call alone was already invaluable. Being there for the caller, supporting them through their most difficult of times and hearing their smile through the phone by the end was such a heart-warming fulfilling sensation.
This feeling has not shifted as my time in the service passes, in fact, every call cements the reason why I chose to volunteer for such a worthy service. Not only do I feel enormous levels of satisfaction from helping others within our community in a completely anonymous manner, but I feel that I’ve grown through my experience with GibSams. I value time much more and stop for that moment to talk to and listen to those around me. The callers benefit from the service, but I as a volunteer also do.
When I turned up to the selection day almost 2 years ago by myself, I could not have imagined what a wonderful journey being part of such a remarkable team would be.
You can join me in the GibSams family as a listening volunteer by emailing email@example.com
This article was first published in the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper in 2021 as part of September’s Suicide Awareness Month.