Your Life Counts needs community participation to thrive so that youth and families can make it through the toughest times. We invite you to team up with us as we welcome all kinds of volunteer involvement with YLC. It’s so important to work together and move toward our goal of reaching as many youth and families as possible with our positive message of help and hope. We can only do this with support from caring people, like you.
Here’s some examples of how can you help. We need:
- Trained social workers, nurses, counselors and other caring professionals who can give a few hours of their time each week to help support our online lifeline and advise us on key areas of YLC operations - please note that our online lifeline is not facilitated by untrained people - if you would like to be considered as a facilitator for the online lifeline please complete the volunteer application below
- Help with fundraising – Introduction to potential financial corporate sponsors and other supporters
- New articles for the YLC website. We’re continually updating our database of knowledge & information
- Ideas and advice
- Original artwork and graphic designs for our website
- Special expertise in web design and technology is welcomed
- Introducing the YLC strategy to your local school, community or leadership groups
- Community peer mentors for vulnerable young people who need a listening ear and encouragement
- Volunteers in the community for special events and other initiatives
- We are always open to suggestions so if you have an idea for an involvement whether you want to climb Mount Kilmanjaro or hike to the North Pole - we want to hear from you!
We take volunteers and community support very seriously. We set high standards of conduct, professionalism and care and we do expect our volunteers to work at no lesser a standard than if the job were paid. We're very grateful to every one of our volunteers as we seek to give our very best service in the work that we do. It is a very precious responsibility and we do not take it lightly.
Our community volunteers take our message into schools, special events and fundraisers while our 'virtual' volunteers work at the technical level and carry the YLC vision and mission into the virtual Internet community. Both our community and 'virtual' volunteers are integral to the outreach of YLC to support youth and families around the world.
Our volunteer application process has 5 stages:
- Complete and return a volunteer application which you can download by clicking here
- Complete and return a confidentiality agreement click here
- Telephone or in person interview.
- Apply for a vulnerable sector Police clearance certificate at your local Police station. We will email you a letter of request that will need to be signed by you and taken with you to your Police station. Please also note that there is usually a fee charged by the Police for this certificate – usually between $20 and $30 – the cost for which would need to be covered by you, the applicant.
- Provide 3 referees each of whom would be required to provide a written reference for you (the reference form is included in the application form).
Questions about Volunteering with YLC:
Q: Can anyone apply to volunteer with YLC?
A: Almost anyone can apply but that does not mean we accept every application. Please bear in mind we have worked very hard to build a solid reputation and we continue to safeguard and protect our reputation for all good reasons. It follows that we are very careful and selective about who comes on to our team. We're careful because we understand the significance each time anyone wants to give of their time as a Volunteer to our organization. We're humbled and grateful for the amazing work accomplished by our Volunteers but at the same time we are protective of our team and of the vulnerable people (youth and families) with whom we work closely. It is therefore important that the right people join our team and for others it may well be that YLC is a starting point for consideration as they explore Volunteer opportunities with other organizations. There are all kinds of opportunities to volunteer with YLC which do not require the Volunteer to work directly with vulnerable people. We're happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions and encourage you to get in contact with us. We do ask people to view their possible involvement with YLC seriously and to treat their work with YLC as professionally as if they were being paid to do the job. We are a charity operating under an umbrella of accountability and our volunteers are no exception.
Q: What is the minimum age to volunteer with YLC?
A: 13, all volunteer involvements with students must have the written consent and active involvement of their school, together with parental/ guardian consent to the age of 18. We have these protocols in place to protect all concerned and to ensure accountability.
Q: Do you accept everyone who wants to volunteer?
A: No, we have an application and screening process and are not obligated to accept any application - even if the person has relevant skills, training and experience. We are grateful to all who apply and express an interest in the work of Your Life Counts but we are very careful to ensure that people who join our team are a good fit - not only for us, but for them too. Sometimes people want to volunteer for reasons that are very understable - they may have experienced some major trauma and loss and want to help others for all kinds of reasons. They may have undertaken training and on paper have all the training that we would require of a volunteer. This does not mean that someone automatically can work on the front lines with Your Life Counts. As we've said, we're careful and cautious for all good reasons and trust that you will understand. We encourage you to get in touch with us and apply if you feel this is something you really feel able to commit to. Sometimes we find that the application process with YLC can lead the individual into other areas of service or possibly even open the door for him/ her to receive more support for the trauma that he/ she has experienced as sometimes can be needed and is appropriate. In a very positive way people move forward in the process. We want our Volunteers to feel happy and fulfilled in their work and involvement with Your Life Counts. This is important to us.
Q: What is the time requirement in terms of involvement that you are looking for from potential volunteers?
A: We suggest somewhere in the range of 3-5 hours a week but really depends on the individual and his/ her circumstances. We encourage people to be realistic about the time they truly have available as we want people to enjoy their involvement with us and to feel fulfilled in whatever their involvement with us.
Q: What qualities do you look for in a Volunteer?
A: Loyalty, commitment and a willingness to learn/ improve and work at a high level of excellence just as you would if you were in a paid job.
Q: What experience do I need to volunteer with Your Life Counts?
A: This depends on your involvement with our organization. We do prefer people to have had experience of working with others in a voluntary organization however we also recognize that this is not always possible and that we can only gain experience by getting experience. We ask all applicants to be realisitic in their expectations of what they may want to achieve in their volunteer work with Your Life Counts. For instance, if an individual wants to help develop a particular web component for our website that will work seamlessly with our existing web platform then it is fair for all concerned to expect him/ her to have the abilities and experience neccesary to carry out this work without needing external specialist input. If the individual does not have the relevant skills and experience then it will be impossible for him/ her to complete their task and precious time would be wasted all round.
Q: What qualifications do I need to volunteer with Your Life Counts?
A: This depends on the role you undertake. If, for instance, you were to take a counseling role within the organization we would be looking for a counseling qualification and background as well as the completion of approved training in suicide prevention as with the programs of Living Works or similar. At a baseline we are working towards all volunteers completing the Living Works SafeTalk program and for those who may be working in any way with vulnerable people to have completed the Living Works ASIST program.
Q: What are the training requirements for potential volunteers?
A: Again this depends on the involvement of the individual in their role with Your Life Counts. In respect of the online lifeline we need people who have relevant experience, training and qualifications. Currently our small team of facilitators with the online lifeline is comprised of people with experience, training, qualifications and background in counseling together with suicide prevention training to Living Works ASIST level and beyond. The opportunities to be involved with the online lifeline are frankly very limited for people who do not have this prior training and experience.
Q: Do you require a Police Background check for Volunteers?
A: Yes, we require all volunteers to have a Police background check for working with vulnerable people. The only exception would be for someone under the age of 16 who is involved in a specific activity supervised by his/ her school - for instance, a 13/14/15 year old guy/ girl workings as a team on a Saturday morning doing a community car wash as a fund and awareness raiser for Your Life Counts.
Q: I have a criminal conviction from my past that has involved children. I have been conviction free for 30 years. Can I apply to work with you?
A: We are grateful for your interest in Your Life Counts and we truly wish you all good things in your life. We cannot however accept an application from you to work with us as a matter of policy and procedure. We trust you will understand.
Q: Do you have a office and/or crisis center/phone line located in Calgary?
A: We have a satellite office in Calgary for the development of Your Life Counts Alberta Chapter led by Linda Gardiner – it works in parallel with our online response centre in Ontario
Q: Who responds to people on the online helpline and what qualifications do they have?
A: Our online facilitator(s) have a background in social work/ counseling/ psychology/ psychiatry and education. All have relevant skills, qualifications and experience and work at a professional level. Our team have been trained to Living Works ASIST level or equivalent and beyond.
Q: Do youth mentor youth on the online helpline?
A: No. We do not minimalize the effectiveness of youth supporting youth but for the work of the online lifeline we work at a professional level even though we do not advertise ourselves as such at this time. We are working on several initiatives that require funding support to accomplish our goals in the expansion of our professional support services. We encourage youth mentoring in our school programs and relationships and continue to develop youth capacity in this regard.
Q: Is Your Life Counts registered with the Police?
A: Yes, we are a registered agency with the Niagara Police Service and we partner with Police agencies and other associated agencies across North America and around the world.
More questions? Please first visit our Q&A section here.
It is a thorough process but we are sure you will understand it is necessary to protect those who are seeking help; to protect you and to protect us for harm and risk.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering with YLC!