As volunteer numbers dwindle, Yellowknife Victim Services has issued a call for help.
The organization has just two employees – a frontline worker and a program coordinator – who provide 24/7 on-call service.
More volunteers to help full-time staff respond to crises would mean a more manageable workload for everyone involved, the employees say.
Yvonne Hopkins, Victim Services coordinator, said ideally the organization would like at least eight volunteers. Numbers are much lower than that right now.
“Basically we’re just looking for people who will be available,” she said, adding potential volunteers need to be dependable and stable.
Victim Services has 16 hours of training scheduled over eight evening sessions throughout April for those interested in giving their time.
Training covers sexual assault, family violence, cultural sensitivity, and RCMP protocols.
Volunteers then need to work at least two shifts, which run from 5pm to 9am, in order to receive their training certification.
Providing emotional support
Hopkins said volunteers and staff are called by the RCMP to come on calls to provide victims with emotional support.
“We have different packages made up for when we go on call,” she explained.
Depending on the situation, the packages they hand out could have information on counselling services, shelters, or funeral information.
“When these terrible things happen it’s often really hard [for victims] to figure out what to do next,” Hopkins said.
She also assured volunteers are always accompanied by the RCMP on calls and are always with a partner.
“It’s a very safe environment,” she said.
The majority of the calls Victim Services receives are for assault cases and, in a busy month, Victim Services might receive six to eight calls.
Hopkins said she had been on call for the past three weeks and without being called out once, so the chances of a volunteer being called out can vary.