Volunteer training and development

One of the main tasks of Brave Phone is to recruit a sufficient number of volunteers to work on the helplines and in the Children’s House Borovje, and to provide them with ongoing training and supervision to make their work more effective.

For volunteers working on the helplines Brave Phone for Children and Brave Phone for Mums and Dads, the basic training comprises lectures / workshops on communication skills needed for phone counselling and skills needed for work with abused and neglected children. The training for work in the Children’s House Borovje also includes lectures on group work, mental and physical development of children and expressive techniques in working with children, as well as the individual approach to the child.

Upon completion of the training and trial sessions, volunteer training continues with additional training which constitutes an integral part of the support system for volunteers. Lectures expand on material covered in the basic training and are designed to offer support and further assistance to volunteers throughout the year, increasing their professional competence and their motivation and willingness to work. In addition, further training is also of use to the volunteers themselves in their own professional training and development of professional skills. Some of the topics of previous additional training sessions are: “Legal protection of children in the Republic of Croatia”; “Stress and crisis intervention in working with children”; “Suicide and self-harm in children and young people”; “The identity of the group leader”; “Creative techniques in working with children”; “The consequences of parental divorce for children”, etc.

To ensure that volunteers will always be able to get help with cases which they find difficult or situations where they cannot decide independently how to react, Brave Phone organises regular supervisory meetings, which are compulsory for all volunteers. Supervision is carried out by a professional team of supervisors, who prepare content and topics for the supervisory meetings. This team is special in that it consists of former Brave Phone volunteers – people who are well-acquainted with the work of the organisation and the problems encountered by volunteers. Another benefit of supervision is the exchange of experience between the volunteers themselves – these activities include open workshops aiming to moderate a discussion about experiences, improve group cohesion, agree on solutions to specific problems, work on interpersonal relationships and exchange ideas and suggestions for improvement. The division of volunteers into defined supervisory groups is very important, as it allows the creation of trust and openness in conversation with a supervisor. Each group meets once a month and changes to the membership of a group are minimal.

The system of rules governing volunteers, which was created in consultation with volunteers, enables efficient operation with maximum reliability and clearly defined responsibilities for coordinators and volunteers. The guidelines that volunteers receive during training were established by volunteers who had previously participated in Brave Phone’s work. The professional and ethical rules to be observed are explained at the beginning, but since the issues are complex, whenever it is unclear how to resolve a problem that arises (for professional or ethical reasons), volunteers receive help from their supervisors and coordinator. They come to an agreement on how to proceed and make joint decisions which they implement together. In this way we try to instil in our volunteers a good understanding of the rights and obligations associated with working at Brave Phone.