ON THE LINE: Lester Lewis has been a Lifeline telephone operator for a decade.
ON THE LINE: Lester Lewis has been a Lifeline telephone operator for a decade. Craig Warhurst

Help is just a phone call away

WITH lives literally on the line, it's the clear and calm voice of a Telephone Crisis Supporter that can turn someone's life around.

One of these operators, Lester Lewis has been behind the line for a decade and is giving caring and eager-to-help people in the Bundaberg community a chance to become part of the Lifeline team with a telephone Supporter training course.

Mr Lewis said everyone who calls has the belief that they are in a crisis and by focusing on strengths and empowering the person on the other end of the line, it can be solved.

"Some ten years ago I was working in a role that assisted small businesses grow and develop and, in some sad instances, to help people save their business from disaster,” he said.

"I well remember two occasions where I had a gut feeling that something was very amiss with these clients and that they had, indeed, come almost to the end of their tether.

"I didn't know how to deal with those signs they had given me, nor did I know how I could help them outside of the financial role. Coincidentally, I saw a story in the paper asking for volunteers at Lifeline to train to become a telephone crisis supporter and thought that it may well be what I should apply for, to learn some skills that would help me help such clients.”

Mr Lewis said while the motive behind each call may vary, they have one common ground - they are all human.

Issues regarding relationships, sadness, grief and loneliness are the major contributors.

"We learn not to panic and that the call isn't about you, it's about them,” he said.

"You establish a connection and work together to get to a decision.

"You'd be surprised some of the time it's a case of people not being able to see the woods for the trees.

"The training is world-class and we have a magnificent support system, you're never alone.”

He said they are hoping for 20-25 people to attend the sessions and if they get more and additional one will be held.

"On reflection, I'm so pleased I saw then responded to that advertisement and story asking for volunteers at Lifeline,” he said.

"It has been well spent over 10 years, and I now have a family away from home.”

If you are interested in finding out more, there will be a face-to-face information session held at the Bundaberg Lifeline Centre, 3a River Terrace, on September 5.

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