Tai Hang Youth Centre
Where: 2/F, 121 Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay
What: Founded in 1978, the centre provides a wide variety of activities for residents, students and young people in Causeway Bay. It aims to help them become mature individuals who can contribute to the community. It serves schools and provides counselling, personal development, community services, after-school care, summer programmes and services for the elderly.
How: Visit www.youth.com.hk to download a volunteer application form. There is a wide variety of volunteer work for teenagers, such as art training for the disabled. They can also be trained to work for the centre's empathy counselling hotline. Duties are matched according to the personality and skills of volunteers. Call 2895 4638 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Volunteer: Shirley Chan Ching-wai, 23, is a final year psychology and counselling student at Shue Yan College. She has been doing volunteer work for the youth centre for nine years.
'At first, I visited elderly and mentally handicapped people. Then I took calls on the centre's hotline for HKCEE students. I now mostly help organise training courses and camps for new volunteers.
The hotline service starts the day before the HKCEE results are released and ends in mid-August. I once received a call from a girl who was so nervous about her exam results that she hadn't slept for the past 20 to 30 hours. We spent more than a hour talking and I asked what her favourite hobbies were. By the end of our talk, she sounded less nervous and more relaxed.
I believe that counselling techniques aren't the most important part of hotline work. It's more important to have empathy and let the callers know that they are understood and also help them find ways to relax. Sometimes you have to put your values aside and step into another person's shoes to understand what's causing them to act in a certain manner.
It's also important to share your experiences with other hotline workers. We regularly sit down and talk about our cases and the way we handled them. You might feel depressed after listening to certain callers, so it's important to express your emotions, rather than let them interfere with your work.
Through my work experience, I have matured a lot and discovered my own strengths and weaknesses. I have also found where my interests lie: in psychology and counselling. It helps me understand people in a more in-depth manner.'