Phone hotline offers words of comfort

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2000, 12:00am

Caritas organised a telephone counselling hotline to help Primary Six pupils and their parents get help over the allocation of Form One places.

It recruits volunteers in early June and I volunteer to help out every year.

This year, I was required to be on duty for 10 days in July from 9 am to 6 pm. I answered phone calls and looked up information for our 'clients'. The job was very demanding.

We had to find information from piles of papers quickly while anxious parents and students waiting on the phone. We had to deal with their worries by comforting them and suggesting what they could do.

But if they had serious difficulty dealing with problems and emotions, we had to pass them on to our social workers. After all, we were not professional counsellors. While talking on the phone, we had to show sympathy. We were prepared for callers to be frustrated and agitated.

They needed advice, comforting and counselling. We had to be ready to provide all these things.

Although it could be unpleasant to talk over serious topics on the phone with strangers, we had to speak gently as if we were their friends.

Sometimes we could not help them in the end but at least some of them said things like: 'I feel much better after talking to you.'

Jade is a student at St Mary's Canossian College