Frequently Asked Questions Thank you for your interest in

Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support
(SARSAS). Volunteer Support Workers are an essential part of SARSAS services and provide
thousands of hours of crucial support to survivors every year. Below are some of the most
frequently asked questions that we receive about volunteering with us:
Who are SARSAS?
SARSAS provides services to people who have experienced rape or any kind of sexual assault or
abuse at any time in their lives, especially women and girls. We offer a helpline, one-to-one support
sessions, counselling and e-support.
What volunteer roles do you offer?
 Helpline Volunteer Support Worker
 One-to-one volunteer Support Worker
What is the role of the Helpline Volunteer Support Worker?
Helpline Volunteer Support Workers answer calls on the SARSAS helpline and provide emotional
support and signposting information to people that have experienced rape or sexual abuse.
What is the role of One-to-One Volunteer Support Worker?
One-to-One Volunteer Support Workers provide face-to-face support sessions in which women can
talk through their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. Advocacy and practical support may
be provided if appropriate. These sessions happen once a week and service users are offered
between 10 – 20 sessions.
The sessions take place in the SARSAS hubs and regional spokes across Avon & Somerset within
comfortable and safe locations that have been arranged and assessed by SARSAS staff.
Previous experience of providing one-to-one emotional support in a voluntary/ professional context
or six months SARSAS helpline experience is essential for this role.
When do you recruit volunteers?
We recruit volunteers twice a year in the Spring and early Autumn. All volunteering opportunities
are advertised on our website or social media.
Who can use the helpline service?
The helpline can be used by people who have experienced rape or sexual abuse at any point in their
We have two helplines, one for people who self-define as women and girls aged 13 + and another
for people who self-define as men and boys aged 13 +.
What are the helpline opening times?
Women & Girls (0808 801 0456)*
Monday & Friday 11.00 am – 2.00 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
Men & Boys (0808 801 0464)*
Monday 11.00 am – 2.00 pm
Tuesday 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
(*Self-defined gender identity. Trans and non-binary callers welcome.)
What do I need to be a SARSAS Helpline volunteer?
You don’t need any specific qualifications or experience. All that we ask is that you have:
 Good communication skills
 Empathic, non-judgemental, non-discriminatory manner
 Good timekeeping and are reliable
 Good level of basic English
 Good emotional wellbeing
What are the requirements of the role?
 Be available to carry out one regular 2-3 hour shift each week
 Attend all 5 days of initial induction training
 Commit to being a Helpline volunteer for a minimum of 6 months
 Complete admin and paperwork relating to the role
 Attend a short briefing and debriefing session before and after shift
 Attend monthly group supervision facilitated by external supervisors
 Attend training to learn new skills and ensure a high standard of service on the helpline
 To undertake a DBS check
What training will I receive?
Each Helpline volunteer will receive an initial 40 hours of specialist sexual violence induction
training. This is usually taught over 5 days and covers the following topics:
 The prevalence of sexual violence
 The impact of sexual violence
 Coping strategies
 Safeguarding
 Self harm and suicide
 Listening skills
 Supporting individuals from diverse communities
 The role & its boundaries
 Self-care
We ask that you attend all of the 5 days of initial induction training for the role.
We value our volunteer support worker’s personal and professional development and arrange
additional training, visits to external agencies, opportunities to participate in organisational away
days, planning and social events.
Where is the Helpline based?
In the SARSAS office in central Bristol.
What support will I receive?
The following support is available to all helpline volunteers:
 Briefings before the helpline shift with the Shift Supervisor and other colleagues
 Debriefing after the helpline shift. This is an opportunity to talk through any calls that you
have had and the emotional impact with the Shift Supervisor and fellow volunteers.
 Peer Support. There are a number of volunteers on shift at any one time. Volunteers
support each other on the shift.
 Monthly volunteer group supervision with external supervisors
 The opportunity to speak to the Volunteer Manager. They are here to offer volunteers
support in their roles. They can be contacted at any time during office hours.
What else does SARSAS provide to volunteers?
 References for future jobs and volunteering
 SARSAS will cover reasonable out-of-pocket expenses
What else could I get out of volunteering?
 Support people who have experienced sexual violence to cope and recover
 Learn new skills
 Gain experience for related roles and courses
 Develop awareness around sexual violence and rape
 Opportunities for further training and expanding knowledge
What are the possibilities of getting paid work afterwards?
Some of our volunteers have moved on to paid roles within SARSAS. Others have secured roles
within other partner organisations such as Barnardos, Nextlink, Survive and Womankind.
Do you offer counselling placements?
We are sorry but at this present time we are not able to offer counselling placements.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse and would like to volunteer with SARSAS.
We welcome applications from survivors with direct or indirect experience of sexual violence, and
would be pleased to discuss whether you are at a stage in your personal recovery where you are
able to support others.
Our policy is that if you are currently in support or will be accessing support around sexual abuse
from SARSAS that there is a break of 6 months to a year after the support has ended before you start
volunteering. This is in order to ensure a potential volunteer’s wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of
the people we support as working with sexual violence and abuse can be triggering.
I have some additional support needs. Who can I speak to?
If you have any additional support needs please contact the Volunteer Manager.
I would like to be involved with other projects at SARSAS. Is that possible?
On occasions there will be other opportunities that will arise that volunteers will be invited to
participate in. This could include helping to deliver sexual consent workshops, holding a stall at an
event amongst other things.
I am not available to volunteer on the Helpline at the moment. Is there any other way I can
support SARSAS?
Yes there are lots of ways to support SARSAS. You could:
 Follow us on facebook:
 Like us on Twitter:
 Spread the word about our work and campaigns
 Check out our current SARSAS campaigns:
‘1 in 5’:
‘Pause, Play, Stop’:
 Donate:
 Fundraise for us:
 Become a friend of SARSAS to spread the message that sexual violence is not tolerated.
Contact us for more information.
 Learn about sexual violence – read our myths and facts page:
 Take part in a reclaim the night march or organise one in your town
To find out more about the organisation, volunteering and ways that you can support us please have
a look at our website: