What types of calls does the Lifeline receive?
Forty years ago, when the Lifeline first started receiving calls, 50 percent were information related. Today, with the internet and an increasingly mobile society, 90 percent are of a counseling nature. More than 60 percent of our callers are Japanese.
Loneliness, mental health problems such as depression, followed by relationship and workplace challenges form the largest categories of calls. Cultural diversity is a major theme in many of our calls.
How do you become a phone counselor, and what’s involved?
Anyone who is 21 and speaks English can become a volunteer. The training is held twice a year over an eight-week period, and involves online modules, telephone role-plays, and three Saturday workshops. Those who graduate undertake an apprenticeship period before fully graduating. We ask for a commitment of 10 hours a month for a minimum of 12 months. While I no longer take calls on the line, like many of our volunteers, the skills and the experience I gained from volunteering on the line have given me more than I could ever have imagined, in both my personal and professional lives.
TELL is opening a satellite phone room in Kansai – when is it happening and what is it all about?
This year, TELL has reached out to the people of Kansai to help us finally achieve our goal of providing a 24- hour support service. We know that during the early hours of the morning people are more vulnerable and most in need of this support. This year we have been busy training volunteers from the Kansai area and setting up a new phone room. The Kobe Union Church has been an amazing support in assisting us with training facilities, but to date the number of interested volunteers has been low. TELL will still only have one number for the Lifeline, but calls will be soon be answered in either Tokyo or Kansai.
December 5th is International Volunteer Day – does TELL have any plans for this day?
On December 5th, TELL will recognize those volunteers who have made outstanding contributions in 2014, and hold a charity band night in Tokyo; something in the future we would love to see happen in Kansai. December 5th is a day of recognition and appreciation of the difference volunteers make, along with a call for action. This year’s theme is “Make Change Happen”. TELL is reaching out to the Kansai community to help us make history and become a 24-hour support service.
TELL’s next training will start on February 14th in Kansai and finish on April 14th, and applications are now being accepted.
• TELL Lifeline: 03-5774-0992 Free, anonymous telephone counseling and support in Japanese and English
• Hours: 9am–11pm daily
• Website: telljp.com