One of the key pillars Gotcha4Life invests in is Life Line Scholarship Program to target at risk males. Gotcha4Life fund the out of pocket costs for males undergoing training to volunteer as a Lifeline Crisis Supporter. Tom White was the first applicant to be selected to undertake the intensive Lifeline training and we recently met to discuss his journey. Tom is a 27 year old male originally from Scone NSW. During his youth, Tom experienced a number of his peers and family affected by depression and loss due to suicide. Now living in Sydney, Tom heard about the scholarship program on the Triple M Grill Team show. "The course required attendance weekly for 3 hours each Wednesday. It worked perfectly with my shift work and I was able to easily complete the sessions said Tom. There were two weekend workshops that I was also required to do which I fitted in around my work." Now, having completed the training, Tom regularly volunteers at Lifeline taking calls on 13 11 14 from people all across the country. Every call is different. The calls vary from being overwhelmed by day to day life problems, financial difficulties, loneliness and isolation and those considering taking their own life.
Tom said “thanks to the in-depth training module and availability to online directories whilst on the call resources, each Crisis Supporter has all the tools they need to support the help-seekers in their time of need.
From his experiences so far, Tom believes that males tend to ring Lifeline as they don’t want to burden their mates with their problems. Calling Lifeline gives them a chance to talk openly and honestly to someone with out any judgement. The anonymous nature of the call gives the help seeker the power to express how they are feeling and get what ever they need off their chest. Tom says “ that more often than not they are able to work through their problems whilst on the call.”
The most important quality of a Crisis Supporter is the power to LISTEN. When I asked how many calls he would receive in a session, Tom responded with “Generally, I would take approximately 40 calls in one session. I do one four hour shift per fortnight and ideally will complete 96 hours per year. What’s great is that there are also re-fresher courses available is I feel the need to revisit any particular area.”
Tom shared that after he has completed a shift, he usually goes home quite exhausted but reminds himself of the impact he is having on people’s lives and hopes that his voices and ear have helped someone and made a difference to their day. He says “the volunteering work is rewarding and feels great to be giving back. Receiving positive feedback from a call is also a great bonus.”
I asked Tom if there were downsides to being a Crisis Supporter. “Well, I have to fit in the shifts around my day, but that usually works out as my boss is happy that I am doing it. I do sometimes take a lot of stuff on and think about the conversations and wonder if some of the people I have connected with are OK.”
Finally, I asked if he would recommend the training to his friends and family. Tom responded saying, “Yes, for sure! It’s a great course and you are supported all the way. You are with a great team when you do your shifts and if you need any help or any one to talk to there is always some one there. Its so rewarding and feel so good to do something for others that are struggling. I even find with my training that I can better help my co-workers, family and friends. I am now a really good listener!”
For males interested in becoming a Lifeline Supporter please visit our link: https://www.gotcha4life.org/scholarship-programs/