Katie is one of our new support line volunteers. She is 27 years old, used to work as a hairdresser, but now she is looking after her puppy whilst she works towards a career in mental health.
How did you hear about volunteering at NAPAC?
‘I’m a survivor myself. I went through psychodynamic therapy and I wanted to help other survivors like me. The service I was using told me about NAPAC.’
What was your main reason for wanting to volunteer on the support line?
‘I know how tough and painful it is being a survivor. For years, when I was growing up, I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to, someone that would understand. For me it was very important that I didn’t feel alone. When I heard about NAPAC, I found it really relieving. I thought ‘I want to be that person for someone else, make them feel not alone, give them the right support.’
Was there anything you weren’t sure about, before you started on the support line?
‘I wasn’t sure if I’d be that right person to give support. I was a bit worried and scared that they might have something I might not be able to help with. Every survivor is different. What if I didn’t know what to say? But you get great support here. I feel like I’m not alone.’
What was the training like?
‘It was amazing, I got a lot of information. It felt positive. Even though some of the things that you hear are really difficult to hear at times, you know that you are going to be supported by NAPAC.’
What was it like taking your first call?
‘I felt very nervous. It was really scary. These are real lives and real people. You’re the person that’s going to be making the difference at the end of the phone call. I surprised myself because I felt like ‘I can do this’, I felt positive.’
What’s an average shift like?
‘You never know who is going to be ringing up. They are survivors who need to be listened to, to help them get through their day. It makes a difference. Most people say they feel so much better that they rang NAPAC, so that feels great for us, as feedback.’
What’s the hardest thing about taking calls?
‘When you have a survivor who has suffered really bad abuse and they are really struggling. Sometimes listening can be really sad and you just want to give them a hug and be there for them and make it all better. When that call has to end, you just want to be there a bit longer.’
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of volunteering on NAPAC’s support line?
‘If you’ve got the compassion and you’ve got the empathy, then you won’t struggle at all. The caring side of you will just kick in. You’ll wonder what you were ever worried about, really.’
Do you need to be a survivor?
‘No, you don’t. Although I’m a survivor myself, you don’t need to be. If you have compassion and empathy and you can listen, then you can do it.’