Helpline volunteers

Volunteering on the helpline

The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline is a lifeline for women and children experiencing domestic violence.


Run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s Aid, the Helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


What qualities and skills are you looking for?

Volunteers must be able to commit to working a minimum of a weekly four-hour shift. We look for women who possess the following qualities, skills and experience:

  • Commitment to volunteering for a minimum of one year
  • Non-judgemental attitude
  • Ability to empathise with people
  • Good listening skills
  • Understand the importance of empowering callers to make their own decisions – rather than giving prescriptive advice or trying to ‘rescue’ them
  • Commitment to Refuge’s philosophy, aims and values of protection and empowerment
  • Ability to work under pressure and handle difficult situations
  • Experience of working on a telephone helpline, or in a position offering advice and support (desirable but not essential)


What kind of work do helpline volunteers do?

Staff and volunteers working on the Helpline provide confidential emotional support and practical help to women experiencing domestic violence. The Helpline also receives calls from friends and families of victims, and other professionals and agencies who may be referring women to refuges.

Helpline volunteers are responsible for:

  • Answering calls on a four-hour rota basis, as agreed with the Helpline Volunteer Coordinator
  • Listening and offering practical and emotional support to callers
  • Liaising with agencies on behalf of callers
  • Making referrals to women’s refuges
  • Performing any administrative tasks connected with taking calls before ending shifts
  • ‘Handing over’ all relevant information to staff/volunteers on the incoming shift
  • Attending support group meetings and supervision sessions as agreed
  • Attending relevant training sessions
  • Adhering to health and safety regulations and to Refuge’s equal opportunities policy

Volunteers sign a confidentiality agreement before training, and are expected to follow the terms of that agreement at all times.

We ask that volunteers give as much notice as possible if they need to take time away from the Helpline. If a volunteer is absent from the Helpline for two months or more, she may be asked to complete some or all of the training again before resuming shifts.


Volunteer testimonial

“As a volunteer on the National Domestic Violence Helpline, I have an amazing opportunity to support women in a very tangible, fulfilling and empowering way. There are few other volunteering positions where, at the end of the day, you can say that you actually helped to save lives!

I’m surrounded by a helpful and experienced team who create a very welcoming, supportive and appreciative atmosphere. My experience has also reinvigorated my desire to pursue a career in this sector, and has also provided me with the professional experience necessary to do so.”


I’m interested – what happens next?

We recruit Helpline volunteers at regular periods throughout the year. If you are interested in applying, please keep an eye on our current vacancies page, where these opportunities will be advertised.

If you have any questions, please email


What about training?

Volunteers undergo a 7-day training programme (usually run over a two-week period, including weekdays and weekends). The programme helps volunteers to learn about the following:

  • Definitions of domestic violence
  • Refuge and our services
  • The impacts of domestic violence
  • Diversity and domestic violence
  • Risk assessment and safety planning
  • Safeguarding children
  • Call handling skills
  • Legal and civil remedies
  • Housing issues

During the training, volunteers will also role-play various scenarios and shadow an experienced helpline worker.

If you would like to find out more please contact