A Helpline volunteer's experience on the growth of this vital service

Iain has volunteered with Cruse Scotland for the best part of two decades and over this time he has seen a lot of growth and change, particularly with our Free National Bereavement Helpline where he continues to volunteer. In this blog, Iain shares his journey and how the Helpline has expanded over the years. 

February 23, 2024

On commencing retirement, I volunteered to become a director on the Board of Management for the Glasgow Branch of Cruse Scotland. When a few years later, the Glasgow became part of the West of Scotland branch I became the Chair of the Management Committee.

It was while acting as the Chair that I started working on the telephone answering enquiries to our office in Glasgow. It was not a Helpline at that point, but a purely administration line dealing with enquiries and arranging sessions with one-to-one volunteers, but it did provide me with valuable experience in dealing with distressed clients and an appreciation of the valuable work carried out by Cruse Scotland volunteers

On giving up the role of Chair of the West Branch my experiences motivated me to study at Glasgow Caledonian University to obtain a Diploma in Counselling Skills. After achieving this certificate I progressed to become an advanced listener and I volunteered to help on the Cruse telephone line which later became the Cruse Scotland Helpline.

I enjoyed working one to one with individuals as an advanced listener and the variety of different people on the Helpline. In the early days, it was located centrally in the Glasgow Office. This meant that volunteers were restricted to those within easy reach of Glasgow. The result was that the team struggled to meet the demand and often I would spend my time dealing with messages unable to answer live calls. 

When the Covid 19 Pandemic forced Cruse Scotland to introduce home working for the Helpline, the location of the volunteers adapted too and Cruse Scotland was able to dramatically increase the number of Helpline volunteers, resulting in us being able to take a huge increase in calls across the nation for bereaved people across Scotland.

In summary I have been involved in every stage of the development of the Helpline from a shoestring set up in the Glasgow office to a modernised professional organisation which looks after the needs of both clients and volunteers. 

I continue to enjoy my experience in supporting people across Scotland that need support, someone to listen and be there for them in such a vulnerable time period in their life.

The Cruse Scotland Helpline is a lifeline for those who need us, and with an expansion in the team taking calls across the country, we are here, ready to support them when they need it.


Thank you Iain for all you have done over the years, and continue to do, to support the bereaved people of Scotland. 

If you are inspired and would like to find out more about volunteering on our Bereavement Helpline too, please email training@crusescotland.org.uk and we'll be in touch as soon as the next recruitment and training dates are live.

A Helpline volunteer's experience on the growth of this vital service