Crisis Responder Volunteering: Experience the Rewards!

Volunteering on the Lines

View the training schedules for Volunteer Crisis Responder Training. They are accessible via their start dates:

  • Upcoming training: February 2022 (dates to be announced soon)
  • The in-person portion of training takes place in Nanaimo.
  • Subsequent volunteering takes place in Nanaimo.

Please read our COVID-19 Guidelines & Protocols for Volunteer Trainees in our training facilities.

We are currently offering training via Trainual which is an online, web-based application. Volunteers train at their own convenience, given that they read through the modules by certain dates. They are required to attend in person once a week for five weeks to review the material and to practice skills learned. Lastly, trainees complete shifts in person on the Crisis Line, observing operations and being mentored by staff. Training typically takes place over six weeks.

The benefits of becoming a Volunteer Crisis Responder

Are you looking to:

  • Provide a meaningful contribution to our communities as you apply our motto, Helping People Find Their Way?
  • Enhance your interpersonal and communication skills by learning active listening, supporting others with patience and empathy, and applying crisis and suicide assessment and intervention skills?
  • Develop greater social awareness by increasing your knowledge of the issues and challenges faced by many in our communities, especially those who struggle with mental illness?
  • Apply your crisis support experience in the fields of psychology, social work, policing, nursing, or other helping professions?
  • Acquire new listening and communication skills you can utilize in your personal and professional lives?

If so, consider volunteering with the Vancouver Island Crisis Society and take part in a rewarding, enriching, and challenging experience. Demand for the support services you can offer is growing substantially. You will make a difference in others’ lives. And, by saving a life, you might just change your own.

About The Training Program

The Vancouver Island Crisis Society, accredited by the American Association of Suicidology, is contracted by Island Health to provide support on the Vancouver Island Crisis Line.

  • Our Crisis Line, which operates 24/7, serves Vancouver Island
  • Provides short-term emotional support, crisis intervention, and information about community resources
  • Is the public access to Crisis Response Teams (Mental Health & Substance Use) in a number of Vancouver Island communities
  • Support is also offered via Crisis Chat and Crisis Text

Along with the Vancouver Island Crisis Line, Crisis Responders provide support on two provincial network lines (1800SUICIDE and 310Mental Health Support), as well as the national Canada Suicide Prevention Service (via voice and text).

Our volunteers and staff provide support and assistance to people who are experiencing emotional distress around a variety of issues including suicide, mental health concerns, family violence, grief, addiction, as well as loneliness and isolation. We also support friends, family members, neighbours, and professionals looking for assistance in helping someone who is emotionally distraught.

Our comprehensive, research-based training program and our ongoing supervision of volunteers is well recognized and respected across the Island. Ongoing learning processes foster genuine compassion, combined with critical thinking abilities, to help Crisis Responders support people through many forms of crisis.

Training Occurs in Two Phases

Phase One
  • Online segment (with check-in meetings), designed to help build foundational crisis intervention skills
  • Discussion of course material and practicing skills through role-plays.
  • One-on-one, in-person observation shifts (shadowing)
Phase Two
  • Hands-on, practical application of the material learned. This segment of the training is where, as a volunteer, you begin taking crisis line calls with staff mentorship and familiarizing yourself with the distress centre. When someone is ready to be take calls on their own, they begin volunteering on the lines!

Required Skills, Knowledge and Characteristics

  • Conveying respect, non-judgement, and empathy to vulnerable people in crisis
  • Willingness to receive and apply constructive feedback
  • Comfortable and competent using technology (computer and telephone)
  • Critical thinking skills and attention to detail
  • Working independently as well as within a team setting
  • Excellent English language skills, both written and spoken
  • Ability to adapt, make decisions quickly, and to multitask as necessary
  • Maintaining emotional self-control under stress
  • Engaging in ongoing training for the tenure of your volunteer work with the Vancouver Island Crisis Society

Standard Requirements

  • High school diploma and a minimum of 19 years of age
  • Resident of Vancouver Island
  • A non-refundable training fee of $100.00
  • Willingness to travel to Nanaimo for in-person training components and to subsequently volunteer
  • Adherence to COVID-19 Guidelines & Protocols for Volunteer Trainees
  • Maintaining confidentiality and abiding by the Crisis Society’s policies and protocols
  • Compliance to volunteer shift commitment
  • At least one year of recovery, if having experienced any major life event such as death, divorce, addiction, mental illness
  • At least one year since you reached out to a crisis line to obtain support yourself
  • At least two years of recovery, if having experienced a personal suicidal attempt or the suicide death of a significant individual

Thank you for expressing an interest in volunteering for the Vancouver Island Crisis Society.


Volunteering Info
Introduction and Training Dates
Crisis Responder Service
Frequently Asked Questions

Application Form