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Ever wanted to give back to your community in a meaningful and enriching way? Now is your chance. Volunteers are a vital part of Distress Centres. Every year, volunteers contribute more than 100,000 hours to our 24-hour distress and crisis lines, providing immediate access to help and support.

Under the supervision of professional staff, all volunteers are carefully screened and fully trained prior to taking calls or working with callers, program participants or survivors of loss. Volunteers also receive ongoing professional support and in-service education sessions. Experienced volunteers learn many life and communication skills which enable them to function more effectively in other aspects of their lives.

What would you be doing?

You will be a crisis responder, providing emotional support and crisis intervention on the text platform.


What qualities are we looking for?

  • Strong keyboarding skills

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Ability to build rapport and convey empathy through an online platform

  • Capacity to remain calm and effective in challenging situations

  • Non-judgemental and accepting of diverse values and beliefs

  • Reliability and punctuality

  • Ability to work independently

  • Good self-awareness and common sense

  • Emotional resilience, stability and maturity

  • Proficiency in the English language (including ability to write in English)

  • Open to feedback

  • Access to a computer that has internet capabilities

  • Access to a confidential space at home for completing shifts

  • Adherence to Distress Centres' policies, procedures and call-taking guidelines

  • Ability to support Distress Centres' philosophy of empowering individuals


For your consideration

Timing is everything. Because we are dealing with vulnerable individuals, if you are currently experiencing your own personal trauma or emotional difficulties, this position may not be a good fit for you at this time. If you have experienced trauma in the past, it is important that you have worked through it with insight before going on to help others.


our responsibility to you

To provide training, protocols, policies, support and supervision to help volunteers do their job.


What we ask in return

To work one four-hour shift per week, for a period of at least one year (or a comparable number of hours) following training. You will be able to choose your weekly shifts from designated shift times from 4:00 pm to 12:30 am, 7 days a week.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding shift scheduling, you will be able to address this with one of our volunteer coordinators.


What will be expected of you

  • Two references that are professional or volunteer-related

  • Police reference check, including vulnerable sector screening

  • A $75 fee to offset the costs of training & training materials

  • Successful completion of helpline and text support comprehensive training programs

  • Reliability in fulfilling weekly shift commitments

  • Working within Distress Centres' policy and procedure guidelines

  • Maintaining a confidential workspace as well as confidentiality about your work with Distress Centres

  • Participation in ongoing training and work-related opportunities for growth


What's in it for you

Helping those in need in your own community can be tremendously rewarding.  Online crisis response is a unique opportunity to help others, while also developing and enhancing communication skills that many find useful in everyday personal and business life.

Other benefits include:

  • Training

  • Enhanced self-growth

  • Increased knowledge of community resources

  • Learning new information about social issues

  • Opportunity to volunteer in an organization where diversity is welcomed and celebrated

  • Personal satisfaction of knowing one is making a difference in the community

  • Preparation for careers such as social work, psychology, community outreach, etc.

  • Letter of reference upon fulfilment of one-year commitment

As part of our commitment to volunteers, reference letters and confirmations of volunteerism are provided upon request to those who have fulfilled the specified requirements.  When providing reference letters, Distress Centres is only able to attest to a volunteer's skills, experience and personal qualities.  For clarity, reference letters and confirmations of volunteerism will note that Distress Centres volunteers engage in supportive counselling, but do not engage in psychotherapy, in the course of their volunteer work.


The application process

  • After filling out an application, qualified applicants will be contacted, advising them to contact the office to complete a phone interview.

  • During the phone interview, your telephone presence will be assessed, as well as your communication skills and style.

  • Successful candidates will be invited to complete an in-person interview.

  • A reference check from two current or former supervisors will be completed after the in-person interview.

  • Successful applicants will be invited to participate in upcoming training.


**Please note that the screening process involves multiple stages. Not all applicants will be invited to the next stage. We thank you for your interest!

NOTE: Vulnerable sectors involvement or a criminal record will not necessarily preclude a volunteer from their role at Distress Centres. Decisions will be made on an individual basis. All information collected will remain confidential.

Distress Centres embraces diversity and values the lived experience of those who may be marginalized on the basis of race, creed, colour, national origin, political or religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family relationship and disability.



Q: What are the volunteer shift hours?

A: The Canada Suicide Prevention Service – text -  operates 7 days a week, 4 pm to 12 midnight and volunteer shifts are within these times.  A typical shift is 4 hours.


Q:  What training is involved?

A:  All applicants accepted to CSPS Text training are required to successfully complete 408 Help Line training plus an additional training specific to CSPS Text services.


Q:  What is the commitment?

A:  One year following successful completion of training, minimum one shift per week.


Q:  Where is CSPS text support provided?

A:  CSPS text shifts are completed offsite in a private and confidential space provided by each program volunteer.  You must have access to a secure internet connection and a computer.


Q: What makes a good CSPS text volunteer?

A:  Comprehensive training and supervision are provided.  You provide an ability to stay calm and focused in busy stressful situations and excellent written communication skills.  The ability to convey warmth and empathy using the written word is essential.