Has COVID-19 meant any changes for helpline volunteer recruitment and training?

We have run two remote training groups during the pandemic, however, in March 2022 we plan to return to in-person training, as their is great value in bringing women together to train in the same physical space.

Beyond training, volunteer activities are currently a mixture of in-person and remote, which we plan to keep in place long-term.

If you have any questions or concerns about these arrangements, please get in touch at volunteering@cambridgerapecrisis.org.uk.

What does the training involve?

There will be ten initial training sessions, mostly on Saturdays (10am-4pm) over a two-month period. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all training is currently happening remotely.

We cover many different aspects of rape and sexual abuse, including ritual abuse, childhood sexual abuse, prostitution, and their impacts on women and girls.

We don’t expect you to know everything there is to know about sexual violence before applying. We want to make sure that all our volunteers are fully prepared to support our callers and emailers with anything they want to talk about.

As the training is comprehensive, it is vital that you attend all the sessions. We understand that people can have unexpected issues that prevent them from coming to a training session so we would ask that you go to the session you missed when the next group begins. If you miss one of the first four sessions, we would ask you to re-join the next training group from the beginning.

Do I have to commit to a weekly shift?

No – all our volunteers are asked to tell us their availabilities for the coming month and we fill in the rota based on that. This means that you might do a Wednesday shift one week, a Thursday the next week, have a week off and then do a Sunday shift the following week, or any variation of shifts!

We do ask all volunteers to attend a monthly supervision, which runs on a Monday and a Tuesday evening, to give people flexibility. We also have quarterly volunteer meetings and regular social activities.

What if I’m a survivor?

If you have used one of our support services, we ask you to wait 12 months before applying for the helpline/email support service.

Otherwise, we trust your judgement about your emotional well-being and if you would be able to take calls and read emails without it being traumatising.

If you would like to discuss this with our Volunteer Manager, this will be kept completely confidential. We would never ask you to share your personal experiences of sexual violence in the interview or training process.

I want to volunteer, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle listening to distressing calls and reading distressing emails. Should I apply?

We have a comprehensive support system to help volunteers with the emotional side of the work.

Due to the increased pressures of COVID-19, we are currently seeking volunteers who can demonstrate their emotional resilience through previous voluntary/paid experience.

While this work is emotionally demanding for everyone, if you are having serious doubts about your resilience, we ask that, in order to protect yourself, you wait until the pandemic is over.

Please feel free to discuss this with our Volunteer Manager.