Why volunteer at Christmas?

Posted on December 19, 2018 by Rosie Allister

Christmas comes but once a year, and for some people that is a relief. While the stereotype of a difficult Christmas burnt lunch or forgetting to get the batteries for the must-have Christmas toy, for a lot of people it’s quite different.

The veterinary community work hard at Christmas. Vetlife Helpline is a part of that community, it’s veterinary professionals supporting other veterinary professionals, and so our helpline and email support services are open 24 hours over Christmas and new year.

There’s often an expectation that Christmas is a happy time, and when things are difficult, that expectation can weigh heavily. The festive season can come with other stresses too. Others looking forward to family time can magnify feelings of loneliness, grief, or relationship issues. There can be seasonal work pressures for vet practices too. Whether it’s professional or personal worries, Vetlife Helpline is completely confidential, non judgemental, and here to listen.

Here to help

We never talk outside helpline about individual calls that we receive because we promise our callers that everything they tell us is confidential, and that is a promise that matters hugely to us. We can talk about broad themes – the sorts of calls we get at this time of year often involve loneliness and sadness; people who are alone, who are surrounded by people but lonely, and people who have been bereaved. We also might hear from students preparing for finals, people who are working or studying and away from family and friends, people with money worries, or health concerns. For many people the time of year can make challenges they are facing even harder.

All of the people who respond to calls on Vetlife Helpline are trained volunteers. Often people who call us apologise, saying they are sorry for bothering us, or that they feel they are wasting our time. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I sometimes reply by explaining that as volunteers, we choose to be there, and it’s a privilege. I know other volunteers share a sense of huge respect for people who call us, and of being humbled by the trust people put in us. We want to be there for people when they need us, whatever time or day it is.

Tradition is important at Christmas time. People can choose to make their own traditions, and for many of our volunteers, being there for others at Christmas becomes part of theirs. We hope the veterinary community has a happy Christmas and festive season. And however it goes, we are here for you.

Vetlife Helpline is available on: 0303 040 2551 or email via https://www.vetlife.org.uk/

Rosie Allister

Written by Rosie Allister

Rosie is Vetlife Helpline Manager. She has been researching veterinary wellbeing since 2008 and has particular interest in mental health, workplace wellbeing, supporting vet students during the transition to practice, and veterinary identity. She runs workshops and training, publishes, and regularly speaks in the UK and internationally on veterinary mental health. She is a member of the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative Task Force and has also volunteered with Samaritans for eleven years. She’s owned by a dog who likes running even more than she does.