Day two of Volunteers Week and it’s time to recognise another group of YouthNet volunteers – Live Chat Moderators.
Four times a week we open up the chat room on TheSite.org for a two hour group chat session. Three out of those four sessions are run by volunteers and without them the service wouldn’t be as established as it is today. Our volunteers have enabled us to run more chat sessions than ever before and in turn support more and more young people in real time.
Visitors to the chat room can log in anonymously and talk about anything that’s bothering them. Volunteers are kept on their toes by the wide range of issues that come up. These range from the more trivial banter about what’s for dinner and what’s on TV, to serious discussions about mental health issues, relationships or homelessness to mention just a few.
Given that no chat session is the same, our volunteer chat mods need to be extremely adaptable. Creating a welcoming atmosphere is key, as well as building rapport and being able to offer emotional support and signposting to relevant sources of information and advice.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about each of our amazing chat mods and what they bring to live chat.
Sandra – Since becoming a chat mod Sandra has gone on to be an online peer advisor as well. She’s also an accomplished Soprano and has recently been presenting a local radio show on Insight Radio. Her personality really shines through in chat sessions and she definitely has a way with words. Her chat debriefs are always our favourite email of the week.
Chloe – Chloe has graduated from University and hopes to become a clinical psychologist. Chat has allowed her to gain practical experience in using her skills to help others. Chloe has been able to relate to the people she helps in chat and built up a great rapport with the community.
Kaff – A long time fan of TheSite.org, Kaff uses her wealth of life experience and knowledge of TheSite to keep people coming back. She is a great listener and has an air of the wise old auntie about her She’s earned a lot of respect from the people that come to her sessions which enables her to diffuse potentially difficult situations with ease.
Wayne – Wayne enjoys a bit of football banter in chat but he’s also equally on the ball when it comes to offering straight talking advice and amazing analogies to put people’s problems into perspective. Wayne is visually impaired and teaches sighted people how to teach visually impaired people how to use computers (quite a mouthful). He’s also currently pursuing another moderating role away from TheSite.
Kimberley – Or is that Kimbers, Kim or Kimbo? Kimberley brings a sense of humour and fun to chat and is rarely lost for words. She’s currently studying to be a Careers Advisor and says herself that chat has become ‘second nature’. She has recently helped us to create a new and improved training program and will be our first Live Chat Mentor to train a new volunteer.
All of our chat moderators have their own skills and quirks that bring something unique to live chat. Different visitors to chat will find they relate to different moderators and it’s these relationships that encourage people to return to TheSite and get the support that they need.