Blog: My experience of volunteering for Chat with Charlie

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In this month’s blog, our Chat with Charlie Service volunteer, Alex*, gives an insight into what it’s like to work within the service and what you can expect if you are considering volunteering.

“A day in the life of a Chat with Charlie volunteer for me, probably starts like many other students. It usually involves going to classes at Uni, or depending on my schedule, doing my own studying at home or in the library. Like a lot of CWC volunteers I chose to study psychology, and being a CWC volunteer has added valuable experience to my time as a student.

The CWC service is open every day from 6pm-10pm for service users, who log on at any time to access online mental health support via instant messaging. Before becoming a CWC volunteer, I had two training days where we learned about online communication and the kinds of situations we might experience. This was a really enlightening process and also takes place with other volunteers so everyone learns together and feeds back to one another which allows you to get the most out of the training. We also complete safeguarding training to prepare us for our new role.

Each shift can be really different as we experience a variety of circumstances that people might need to talk about. Our job is to offer a listening ear and a safe space for someone to talk about what’s on their mind, but also to signpost them to any relevant services they can access that might be able to offer them further assistance. We also have a duty to safeguard users if necessary. When on shift, we are with one of our shift coordinators to support us, and if we have a quieter shift with less chats, we do role-play chats to keep ourselves challenged and building on offering advice in different scenarios.

I have been a volunteer for four months now and I have found it a really rewarding and learned a lot, that not only applies to my role as a CWC volunteer but also that I can use in my own life to help myself & those around me.

We need more volunteers for the service, so if you are interested in becoming a volunteer like me, click here.

~ Alex*

Chat with Charlie is an online mental health support service for students of the University of Essex which you can access between the hours of 6pm – 10pm every day (Except Bank Holidays). Please register or log-in to access the service where you can chat one to one with a member of our team. If you are in need of immediate support please click ‘Urgent Support’.

The service can be accessed here.

*Name has been anonymised