By Stacy Ashton, Executive Director
On December 21, 2020 CBC Front Burner released a behind the scenes look at a night on the Crisis Centre lines.
Deciding to open up our work to a national audience was not something we took lightly. We are deeply committed to the privacy and confidentiality of those who reach out to us for support. Instead of having Front Burner producer Elaine Chau sit in on calls in progress, we invited her to connect with Max, one of our volunteer crisis service responders, and Nicole, one of our distress room support staff, over the course of their shifts.
Max and Nicole shared their experiences of working at the centre; how they respond to the calls that come in; how they open their hearts, minute-by-minute, to provide comfort to people in pain; how they deal with the reality of rarely getting to know what happens next, but go on anyway; how their own life experiences drew them to this work; and how our team members support each other in staying open and compassionate.
Explaining the work we do to people who haven’t been on the lines is difficult. We are, in many ways, intentionally non-professional. Because no one gets through life without adversity, we are people who have all experienced overwhelming times in our lives; these histories are what we draw from when we give people the time and space to talk, without any other agenda than to listen. Our work takes time, grounding, and an extremely supportive work environment to be done well.
As we move towards making a national 9-8-8 suicide hotline a reality, understanding what it takes to create safe spaces for callers in crisis is going to be key to ensuring every person has 24/7 access to compassion when they need it.