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Volunteers needed for 24-hour sexual violence crisis line

“You’d be surprised, with a few hours, how much you can make a difference to someone in our community," Women’s Support Network executive director says
Human Trafficking
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York Region’s only sexual violence crisis centre is recruiting volunteers to staff its 24-hour crisis line.

The Women’s Support Network, located on Stellar Drive in Newmarket, operates an anti-human trafficking program and rape crisis centre, along with providing free services that span a wide range of sexual violence, including sexual assault, childhood/historical sexual abuse, ritual abuse, and sex work.

In 2016, the organization served 3,600 individuals in crisis and volunteers provided 10,500 hours of crisis-line support.

“Unfortunately, there’s great need for this service,” executive director Jackie Benn-John said. “You’d be surprised, with a few hours, how much you can make a difference to someone in our community.”

Volunteers receive comprehensive training and are asked for a 16-hour per month commitment. The training focuses on active listening, providing a supportive response to callers, how to make appropriate referrals and how to reach out for backup support, if needed.

“No one is ever on their own, and there’s always staff backup available, as well as monthly supervision meetings,” Benn-John said.

Volunteers take crisis calls from their home, and if they have daytime availability, there are opportunities to work at the centre answering calls, greeting clients, and helping with administrative-type duties.

In addition, the organization conducts outreach in rural and remote areas of York Region. Volunteers visit doctor’s offices, clinics and other community locations to drop off information about the organization and its services.

“We are working with very marginalized people and we complete a thorough pre-screening of all our volunteers,” Benn-John said.

Interested volunteers should pre-register with the organization by calling Katie at 905-895-3646 or email A volunteer interview and assessment are also required. Once accepted, comprehensive training is provided.

Volunteer opportunities range from being on the crisis line to helping staff with community events and handing out brochures to partnering agencies.

The volunteer recruitment event is Saturday, Feb. 9 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Women’s Support Network, 1110 Stellar Dr., Unit 109, Newmarket. Training will also take place that day.

For more information, visit here.

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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