Thursday, 20 October 2011

Something worthwhile...

Eight months ago I was bored and looking for something to do. I typed into Google, "spare time", "useful" and "worthwhile" - then hit return.  Just below a link to Appalachian Clog Dancing and above another to Macramé Your Own Hammock sat the link to Missing People. As I can’t dance or tie a knot I clicked on Missing People’s website. If you’re reading this then I’m guessing you’ve seen the website yourself and know the mix of emotions looking at the faces of people who seemingly just disappear, can evoke.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’m attending my first weekly training session with other volunteers of different ages, experience and backgrounds. For one evening a week over a twelve-week period we learn about the missing issue. It’s not a big issue, it’s a huge issue, centered around the shock wave that hits the lives of ordinary people when a loved one disappears. Because of the complexities involved, the training packs a lot in. We’re introduced to the type of calls we’ll receive and the people who’ll make them: the police, the families of those left behind, the missing person as well as hoax and suicide calls, each needing to be listened to and supported in their own unique way. We assess risk, role play different scenarios, test and re-test what we’re learning.

By week six certain procedures are sticking to the flypaper of my memory while others zoom around like a flock of starlings - I’m relieved to find from my fellow volunteers that I’m not alone. The training’s fun and we’re well supported, but we’re also a little nervous about taking our first call. 

I approach my initial shift not with a sense of dread but terror. I’m petrified I’m going to say the wrong thing. When the first call comes through I listen and do my bit. Afterwards I’m told it’s gone well, although I thought I sounded like Mickey Mouse talking to Pluto. That was a few weeks ago - with each call I take it gets easier. Tomorrow I’ll be looking forward to my fourth shift, relieved that in the time it normally takes to macrame a hammock, I’ve learned skills that for me, personally, are far more worthwhile.

By Glenn P.
Helpline Volunteer at Missing People

Looking for a challenging role starting in the New Year? The charity Missing People is looking for passionate people with good listening skills and computer literacy to become helpline volunteers. To find out more about the role and complete the application, visit our website (Deadline: 8 December).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Glenn for the insight. I've always wondered what it was like to work with the MP charity.
    I saw the post about volunteers but unfortunately I live too far away. Perhaps one day, with the much needed funding switchboards could be implemented to take the calls nationwide.


Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

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