Calls to national crisis and suicide prevention service Lifeline have increased 10 per cent during the bushfire season.
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Lifeline Ballarat is working to respond to the increase in demand for support and is calling for volunteers to join the service.
The organisation will hold an information night in Ballarat for anyone who is interested in volunteering from 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday February 18.
Lifeline Ballarat program manager Michelle MacGillivray said the key to becoming a Lifeline volunteer was learning to listen without judgement.
Often for many people that is the first time they feel like they have been heard and that can make a powerful difference.- Michelle MacGillivray, Lifeline Ballarat
"We talk about something called unconditional positive regard - meaning you are wanting to connect with somebody no matter what their experience is and listen without judgement," she said.
"Often for many people that is the first time they feel like they have been heard and that can make a powerful difference. For many people that is what they need. They just want somebody to listen."
Lifeline Ballarat receives more than 10,000 calls for crisis support each year.
All Lifeline volunteers undergo extensive crisis supporter training through a nationally recognised program that includes more than 180 hours of training and student placement.
Lifeline Ballarat volunteer Odette Wells has volunteered with the organisation for five years.
She volunteers with the service eight hours a month during three hour call shifts.
"I was motivated to do the training because I wanted to give something back," Ms Wells said.
"I was at a time in my life where I had the time. I worked in the business world and it was a little bit impersonal. I wanted to talk to and deal with real people."
Ms Wells said the training she had received through Lifeline had assisted in her personal life too, including learning to recognise her own prejudices and judgement, and learning to listen and support others.
Ms MacGillivray said training for Lifeline volunteers contributed to resilient and suicide-safe communities.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all learnt to listen. Many people call because they're lonely. It would make a big difference I think, if we all gave each other that unconditional positive regard," she said.
Ms Wells said she has found many callers were not be comfortable talking about their problems to family and friends.
"To talk to someone completely anonymous and completely disassociated with their world gives them that freedom to move through this space... without thinking 'I am burdening someone I love'," she said.
"Through Lifeline training you learn how to ask someone if they are suicidal. That is really difficult for most people. The training brings everything down to ground level where you think 'I could ask that person and I am not afraid of the answer - if they say yes I will be able to support them'.
"They are really good tools to have in your toolbox."
Ms Wells will share her experience as a Lifeline volunteer at the information session on Tuesday.
"For ordinary people, they might have this assumption you need extraordinary skills to be able to be a volunteer. But it is ordinary people callers want to talk to," she said.
"When people have said to me 'do you find it gets me down or do you have any special skills?', I say I have learnt what I have learnt through the training and I go away feeling better than I did before because it is a really good reset button for what really matters in your life."
Lifeline's volunteer information evening will take place at the Peart Wing, 103 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat, 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday 18 February.
To find out more about Lifeline Telephone Crisis Support volunteering call Lifeline Ballarat 5322 4996 or visit the website https://www.lifeline.org.au/ballarat/.
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