Recruitment and Training of Volunteers
(Why are they Important?)

WHAT IS A LOSS TEAM VOLUNTEER AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT?

  • LOSS Team volunteers can function in a variety of roles including as 1st Responders and in many other capacities including assembling resource folders, making follow up calls, writing cards to the bereaved, visiting local community partners, tracking data, writing articles for newsletters, and assisting with community events such as International Survivor of Suicide Day.
  • Volunteers are the heartbeat of the LOSS Team. It is not only their willingness to do what needs to be done, but their passion, strength, and hope that enables the work to be accomplished.

WHERE TO FIND LOSS TEAM VOLUNTEERS

  • Survivor of Suicide Support Groups
  • Throughout the mental health community including agencies and mental health community events
  • Existing agencies and networks such as the Federal Reserve Corp, the Red Cross, Volunteermatch.org.
  • Faith Based Communities

HOW TO ENSURE LOSS TEAM VOLUNTEERS ARE QUALIFIED

  • Being a LOSS Team 1st Responder takes a unique skill set and it isn't for everyone. Volunteers should be empathetic, reliable, gentle, good listeners, and if the prospective volunteer has been impacted by a suicide loss they should be two years out from that loss - although exceptions can be considered.
  • Sample Volunteer Application
  • Sample Volunteer Interview form
  • Background checks help protect you and your volunteers. Keep in mind LOSS Team trained volunteers will be interacting with vulnerable, traumatized people in their homes.

HOW TO TRAIN LOSS TEAM VOLUNTEERS

  • Training is critical to the success of the LOSS Team. Because not all prospective volunteers will be 1st responders, it may be a good idea to offer a high level information session about the various volunteer opportunities available.
  • Sample Prospective Volunteer Info Session
  • Those who are ready to be a 1st Responder will require additional training beyond the initial Info Session including team activation protocol, how to engage the bereaved, debriefing, and self-care.
  • Those who are ready to be a 1st Responder will require additional training in crisis response situations. This could be Psychological First Aid certification or National Organization for Victim Assistance Certification
  • Sample role description of 1st Responder Team Member

HOW TO RETAIN LOSS TEAM VOLUNTEERS

  • Engagement: In some communities there may be a long period of time between activation calls. Keeping volunteers active with the loss mission may include having volunteers organize a craft workshop, starting a book club, making follow up calls to loss survivors, visiting community partners/providing resources, organizing a community event around suicide awareness or grief.
  • Team Meetings: Helping volunteers to stay connected to one another will cultivate a community of hope that is inviting and healing to new survivors. Monthly team meetings where volunteers can be encouraged, learn about upcoming events, and receive policy/procedure updates are important
  • Sample Volunteer Team Meeting Agenda
  • Ongoing Trainings: An important aspect of a volunteer's role is to continue learning. Continuity bringing in guest speakers to monthly team meetings, and a variety of skills training such as cultural diversity, role plays, motivational interviewing, and bereavement skills training.
  • Self Care ideas: If a volunteer has been impacted by a loss be sure they take time off from volunteering around hard dates. Invite a mindfulness instructor to a team meeting or workshop. Partner with a local spa or yoga studio to set up a class or event. Encourage regular exercise or schedule a group walk. Provide healthy snacks at meetings . Encourage healthy boundaries with the newly bereaved, as well as life in general.
  • Compassionfatigue.org

**LOSS Team leaders MUST model self-care! Remember the saying, "I can't hear your words; your actions are too loud!"

 

 

Communities can provide hope to people impacted by a suicide loss.

Suicide is a public health issue that deserves to be responded to in proportion to its impact.