Vernon-based Interior Crisis Line seeks volunteers from North Okanagan, Shuswap and Kamloops - InfoNews

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Vernon-based Interior Crisis Line seeks volunteers from North Okanagan, Shuswap and Kamloops

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April 22, 2020 - 3:00 PM

Thanks to new technology allowing virtual training to take place at home, the Vernon branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association is seeking volunteers to answer calls for its crisis line.

The technology acquired by the Interior Crisis Line Network based in Vernon means volunteers can work and train from home and allows the 24/7 crisis line to open up the opportunity to volunteers from the North Okanagan, Shuswap and Kamloops areas.

"Many of our callers seek support from these regions and allowing volunteers to support their own community is more important now than ever,” Vernon program coordinator Emily Hollenbach said in a media release.

Training for the crisis line starts May 4, and volunteers undergo 32-hours in-class training done virtually. Volunteers learn the skills needed to handle all calls from types from emotional support and resource referrals, to suicide and abuse prevention and intervention.

The association reported a 20 per cent increase in calls to the Interior Crisis Line within a few weeks of the pandemic.

People often shy away from working on the crisis line, worried they will not know what to say.

"Our responders are never put in a position where they feel alone or unsupported and shifting towards a remote model will be no different,” Hollenbach said. "We have people from all walks of life, not all of us are from the mental health field... we have tradespeople, homemakers, medical professionals, students and retirees."

While the volunteer opportunity is open to everyone, the Canadian Mental Health Association says the opportunity would be ideal for students who are struggling to fulfil volunteer requirements as a part of their education due to the pandemic.

Applicants must be 19 or over, submit a criminal record check and participate in a virtual interview.

For more information about volunteering for the Interior Crisis Line Network call or 250-542-3114 ext. 236, or visit its website here.

Anyone needing support can call the confidential Crisis Line, 24-hours a day seven days a week, at 1-888-353-CARE (2273).

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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