The Telecare Crisis & Caring Line’s phone lines are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, but their goal is to have every call answered, and are working on plans to implement a text-messaging service. Photo courtesy of Telecare Crisis & Caring Line.

The Telecare Crisis & Caring Line’s phone lines are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, but their goal is to have every call answered, and are working on plans to implement a text-messaging service. Photo courtesy of Telecare Crisis & Caring Line.

Abbotsford crisis hotline seeking new volunteers to keep up with surge in callers

Telecare Crisis & Caring Line has seen 24 per cent increase in callers amid pandemic

An Abbotsford crisis hotline service is looking for new volunteers amid a surge in recent callers.

The Telecare Crisis & Caring Line has had a 24 per cent increase in calls since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, “signifying the rise of cumulative stress and loneliness people are experiencing,” said an April 7 news release.

As a registered charity, the organization is volunteer driven, with a mission to provide free crisis and supportive care to anyone who calls.

Their lines are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, but their goal is to have every call answered, and are working on plans to implement a text-messaging service, the news release said.

They receive calls from all over the province, and offer telephone befriending, caring and empathetic listening for people in moments of personal crisis or distress, or merely looking for a good listener.

Bill Strom, the executive director at Telecare, said it’s “heartwarming” that many of their volunteers have been with the organization throughout their 31 years in operation.

“Our volunteers have a passion for helping people and they are the root of our organization. “National Volunteer Week (April 18 to 24) is a great opportunity for all of us to express our appreciation for those that serve at Telecare. We would not be able to fulfill our purpose without them.”

Due to the growing need for mental health support services, Telecare needs new volunteers.

Interested parties need to complete a short training program, which provides guidance on communication, emotional wellness, grief and loneliness. The program is offered online and can be completed in several hours.

Answering the help lines can be done in shifts as short as two hours, are kept flexible and can be changed on a monthly basis, the news release said.

Volunteers can answer calls from the Abbotsford office, which is stocked with coffee, tea, and refreshments, or they may choose to do their shifts from home, the news release said.

“Volunteering for Telecare has been an amazing experience,” shared one volunteer. “Realizing the impact that empathetic listening can do for people’s mental health has been eye opening. I also love that I can volunteer from home, on my couch and even catch up on reading during a quiet shift.”

RELATED: Report finds COVID-19 accelerated declining mental health of Canadian youth

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