Give & Take
Your guide to volunteerism in Hong Kong
People with a mature outlook on life who are good listeners and are willing to help can provide valuable assistance for other members of the community who are going through difficult times.
Suicide Prevention Services (SPS), which serves people contemplating suicide or in emotional distress, offers comprehensive training for volunteers aged over 21. It shows them how to help others cope with their sorrows and, through simple acts of friendship, to get people close to despair to regain their will to live.
By doing so, volunteers can learn to have a more positive outlook on life and be more sympathetic towards the less fortunate.
The experience may also inspire them to think more about their own lives and careers, and what they want to achieve.
SPS has about 200 volunteers, a fair proportion of whom are tertiary-level students. Most are taking disciplines such as social work, psychology, marketing or hospitality services. Some join as part of a course module, while others hope the work will give them broader experience and better communication skills.
'They encounter a completely different world, fraught with conflict,' said Alice Lau, corporate communications officer for SPS.
'The voluntary work trains them to be more patient and enhances their problem-solving techniques.'
To be accepted, it is necessary to attend a selection interview which judges overall suitability. There are then nine tough training sessions, covering both theory and practice. These include how to assess the risk of suicide, handling calls, and learning through role-playing.
Woodas Lai first volunteered in 2000, when he was studying computer science at university.
'Before I joined, I had no idea what life was all about,' he said. 'I was just thinking of helping people and making life more meaningful.'
His experience with the SPS has given him a whole new perspective on overcoming difficulties and confronting unhappiness.
'You must be more open and less stubborn,' he said.
Now employed full time, Mr Lai has continued his involvement with the SPS and believes that he has become a more caring person. He has also become good friends with many of the other volunteers.
Name: Suicide Prevention Services
Mission: Serves people who are suicidal, despairing or in emotional distress, and aims to raise general awareness about suicide and identify ways of addressing the issue
Where: 12-14, G/F, Yat Tung House, Tung Tau Estate, Kowloon
Number of members: 200 volunteers
Time required Weekdays or weekends
How can I apply: visit www.sps.org.hk or call 2382 2007