A GROUP of volunteers are all ears after completing their college training before embarking on a mission to help young people.
Eighteen people have become ambassadors with The Listening Post after studying counselling techniques at Darlington College.
The Listening Post was established in 2017 by Darlington Area Churches Youth Ministry as a listening and mentoring service for young people with low level mental health and well-being issues.
To prevent these issues escalating into something more long-lasting, the organisation provides sessions in six Darlington secondary schools and colleges, as well as appointments at Primary Healthcare Darlington, at Forsyth House, through GP referrals. Last year it helped around 120 young people with more than 2,000 sessions.
Ten of the volunteers came from the local community but eight were staff from engineering company Cummins. They all completed a Level 2 Effective Listening course offered by Darlington College. The Listening Post’s Martin Stand said: “We provide an opportunity for young people to come in and talk about anything that is causing them any anxiety in their lives and by doing so, hopefully, prevent these issues from escalating.”
Darlington College lecturer Chris Hall said: “They have been such an engaging group, all sharing the same aim of doing something that could make a difference to young people’s lives. I am very confident that they will do a great job and look forward to seeing them in the future as they develop their counselling skills.”
For Cummins HR apprentice Hayley Kamp the initiative was an opportunity to help others and her own career development. “I feel that mental health is something many young people struggle with because of social media and it is great that there are services outside the NHS,” she said. “The training was great and Chris was so enthusiastic and encouraging.”
Retired care worker Beryl Plant decided to volunteer because she wanted to help people. “The training was very interesting and rewarding and I am really looking forward to the sessions starting,” she said.
Civil servant Lisa Binks added: “I have children and know the sort of issues they face in today’s world. Being there to listen might just make a difference to youngsters’ lives.”