This is an account from a JAAR Helpline volunteer, due to the nature of her Helpline work we have had to keep her identity private.
A little under five years ago I happened to be talking to a work colleague to say I had some spare time on my hands and was considering some volunteer work. At that time her sister was setting up the SARC Centre and she asked me if I had heard of JAAR!
This was a very new charity and although I’d seen Cassidy McIntosh’s opening speech regarding JAAR I hadn’t really done much research.
I had a meeting with Sara McIntosh and shortly afterwards became a volunteer on the Helpline.
Training was given and I attended as many events, workshops and seminars that I could in order to broaden my knowledge on the subject.
The reality of the responsibility of being a volunteer on the Helpline isn’t taken lightly. You may receive a call in the middle of the night from someone who has been “triggered” and wants to tell you that they were raped 20 years ago but have never told a soul.
This is just one example of many of the types of calls that we may take. In order to ensure that I was providing the correct response to the callers I decided to embark on a course entitled “Counselling skills” this is a level two certificate and is the first step in training to be a counsellor and at the end of the course you are awarded a certificate.
I hadn’t intended taking this any further but at the end of the year I decided to enrol on to the level three “Certificate in Counselling Studies” course. This is the natural progression towards being a trained counsellor.
Next came level four, this is a two year diploma in “Therapeutic Counselling”. It is not for the fainthearted! It involves a lot of academic study, assignments, journals, case studies just to mention a few and also 100 hours of placement counselling work with an organisation that is able to offer placements. Students are also expected to have regular supervision and to also have their own personal counselling sessions.
Once I am qualified I will then become a volunteer counsellor at JAAR and although this sounds clichéd I really do hope I will make a difference to the life of a survivor of rape.
Survivors who choose to speak to a counsellor are taking the first steps of taking control back into their lives and a JAAR counsellor provides the emotional support for a person to do this.
People start to heal once they feel heard.