Volunteering for a Helpline: Pain Concern
Pain Concern’s helpline provides support when people need it most, explains volunteer Eileen Newman
From the day I started training, to the day I took my first call, I never thought for one moment that volunteering for the Pain Concern helpline would change my life in the way it has – that it would never quite be the same. Since volunteering to help at Pain Concern, I’ve had many great opportunities – training for the helpline, moderating the forums, audio transcribing of podcasts, reviewing information leaflets, writing this blogpost – and I’ve enjoyed every one of them.
I found Pain Concern one day when I was suffering pain myself. After this encounter I decided to apply to volunteer for the helpline and was accepted. That was the beginning of a different way of life for me. I received in-depth training which taught me all the important things about managing a call, how to give support, information and direct callers to further resources which apply to their particular situation. In fact, the training was so thorough that I sometimes thought I'd never see the day I'd answer a call!
When my first day finally arrived, I nervously awaited my first caller. I knew I had to sound calm and professional but my stomach told me otherwise! What I wasn't prepared for was the emotional support which some callers require. Some are in tears because they just can’t bear the pain on their own any longer and want someone to share it with them for a while. The obvious comfort and reassurance they feel while they talk – sometimes whimpering – is enough to break my heart. Pain doesn't discriminate. It affects everyone young and old, all colours and creeds. We all live with pain and that's another connection that also touches me.
I listen with empathy to callers with every type of pain and give them time to talk, time that perhaps they haven't been given before. For some, that's all they need –emotional support, something you can't write a prescription for, or tap into five days a week, but something that we at Pain Concern can offer.
We offer other invaluable services as well as the helpline. One of the things that makes Pain Concern special is that it provides information and support in such a variety of formats aiming to reach as many people as possible.
Our Airing Pain radio programme, hosted by Sony Award-winning producer, Paul Evans, is available online and on CD, and features the experiences of those managing their everyday pain and interviews with top, internationally-recognised experts. There are over 70 programmes so far, covering topics ranging from work and benefits to fibromyalgia via young carers and children in pain.
On Pain Concern’s very popular Health Unlocked forums people all over the world give support and encouragement to others in pain. It was here that I posted one day when I was in a lot of pain myself. I had no idea if anyone would answer but I received a number of uplifting replies which helped get me through that black period. Longstanding members of the Pain Concern Health Unlocked community check in every day to answer requests from other people for help. That's how important it is to those in pain, they know what it's like to hurt. Health Unlocked is part of their lives now and I'm proud to be part of it.
We also offer numerous information leaflets, covering subjects such as 'Managing your Medications' or 'Keeping Flare-ups at Bay', as well as the popular Pain Matters magazine, which anyone can subscribe to on a quarterly basis. It is produced in print and digital formats and is an enlightening magazine for people with chronic pain, full of information on self-management techniques, research into pain treatments and first-hand accounts of living with pain.
Pain Concern aims to bring knowledge, professional information, hope and direction – giving others every opportunity to find a way of managing their chronic pain. We have so much to offer – why not recommend Pain Concern to someone in pain today?
Written by our member: Eileen Newman, Helpline Volunteer, Pain Concern
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