Crisis Service Volunteers

Be on the frontline of supporting individuals when they are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide.

Volunteer Crisis Services Responder

The Distress Services Program, accredited by the American Association of Suicidology, provides 24-hour phone- and chat-based support to the community including:

  • Emotional support
  • Help to navigate ongoing mental health concerns
  • Management of suicide crisis
  • Identifying resources for short- and long-term support
  • Skills for coping with situational crises

As our service is complex and dynamic, the front-line role requires genuine compassion, combined with critical thinking abilities. Intensive training and ongoing supervision are provided to volunteers over the course of their work with us; our robust training and ongoing supervision are well-recognized by universities and helping agencies across the province.

The bulk of service is provided by volunteers, alongside several staff Crisis Services Responders.

Be part of fostering a caring and connected community!

Are you looking to:

  • Gain highly valuable transferable knowledge and skills?
  • Make a career change?
  • Provide a meaningful contribution to the community?
  • Receive relevant experience for graduate programs in counselling psychology, medical school, social work programs, nursing, genetic counselling, or another helping profession?

If so, volunteering with us could be a rewarding, enriching, and challenging experience!

Minimum requirements / qualifications

  • Must reside in the Lower Mainland for all training and volunteering
  • Must be 19 years of age at the time the training group starts
  • Ability to convey respect and care to people in crisis
  • Willingness to receive and apply constructive feedback
  • Comfortable and competent in using computers
  • Ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills
  • Ability to work independently within a team
  • Proficiency in verbal and written English
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Willingness to engage in ongoing training for the tenure of your volunteer work with the Crisis Centre
  • Willingness to align to the Crisis Centre policies and protocols
  • Life experience or education that enhances the knowledge or serves the needs of the community, preferred

Readiness for the Crisis Services Responder role

Our work can be challenging and impactful to our service providers. Topics such as suicide, violence and abuse, mental illness, substance use, homicide and relationship issues are regularly raised or discussed.

Lived experience with suicide or mental health concerns can be an asset to this work and to our Crisis Centre community. Throughout our intake process and training, we will actively explore your readiness while keeping in mind that current mental wellness is a requirement to take on this role.

We ask that you please consider if you have recently experienced any major life event such as death, divorce, addiction or mental illness whether now is the right time to take on this work. Some may find a 1-year recovery since experiencing a situational or transitional crisis event would be beneficial.

We ask that you please consider if you have recently had a personal suicide attempt or the suicide death of a significant individual whether now is the right time to take on this work. Some may find a 2-year recovery since experiencing a suicide crisis event would be beneficial.

We ask that you please consider if you have called the Crisis Centre for your own support whether you feel comfortable working alongside someone who may have answered your call. If you have called the Crisis Centre for your own support, it does not exclude you from volunteering here.

If you are unsure or have questions about your readiness for this work, we would be happy to explore this with you during the intake process. Please do not call the Crisis lines for questions regarding volunteering or the application process.

Volunteer Commitment

Volunteers agree to complete the following amount of hours with specifications.

  • 110 hours of basic training (including 2-4 hrs per week of online modules)
  • 250 credited hours of direct service delivery, including:
    • 8 overnight shifts (12am-6am)
    • 48 hours of fringe shifts (between 6AM-8AM +/or 8PM-12AM)
    • 4-week advance sign up
  • 3- and 9-month check-in training and skills monitoring (minimum 16 hours of ongoing training)

Application Details

We are now accepting applications for our September 2024 Training.

Please check all our September 2024 Training Dates below. Training sessions will follow a hybrid model and will either be held in person or remotely over zoom. 

All training dates are mandatory, and cannot be missed or made up.

  • Saturday, Sept 7 – 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Wednesday, Sept 11 – 6:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Saturday, Sept 14 – 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Monday, Sept 16 – 6:00pm – 10:00 pm 
  • Wednesday, Sept 18 – 6:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Saturday, Sept 21 – 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Wednesday, Sept 25 – 6:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Saturday, Sept 28 – 10:00am – 3:00pm
  • Wednesday, Oct 2 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Saturday, Oct 5 – 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wednesday, Nov 13 – 6:00pm – 10:00pm (Final Training Session)

Basic Monitoring Period: Sept 18 2024 – Nov 12 2024
(Taking live calls during training with staff support. Must be done in person at the Centre in Vancouver. Equates to 4 hours per week onsite for a total of 8 weeks).

Mandatory attendance for Info Night

If your application is accepted, you will be invited to attend a mandatory Information Night on Wednesday, July 24th 2024, from 6:00pm – 8:30pm remotely on zoom.

Start your application here

Training details

The Volunteer Crisis Services Responder training fee is $250. Fees are collected to cover some of the substantive training costs incurred, as we work hard to keep the information, training and service current and effective. A sliding scale is available for those who need it. Due to the demand for spaces in our training groups, should you not complete training for any reason, the fee is non-refundable. Please note: training fees are not due until you are interviewed and accepted for training.

For all other inquiries, please note that we will be holding an Info Night to answer questions as soon as your application is accepted and before we move forward with the intake process. This information session is mandatory to attend.

Help Make An Impact

Join us in responding to the mental health crisis and in fostering compassionate, connected, suicide-safer communities.

Donate Volunteer
Our Impact The topic and word "suicide" is not so scary after taking a training from the Crisis Centre of BC. I'm grateful to have been here today, and am hopeful that I can help people in the future. safeTALK participant, Agassiz