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Spotlight on Sue Wilson, helpline volunteer

Volunteer Sue Wilson’s world has become larger since she started on the GriefLine helpline ten years ago.

She says volunteering has changed her life, putting life into perspective and valuing her family and friends more.

“Calls into GriefLine have given me a bigger picture of the difficulties faced by many living in today’s world. For some, having someone say hello is all that it takes. For others – those that call- having someone acknowledge their loss and grief and listen to their grief experiences is often the first step to recovery,” she said.

Sue Wilson, like other volunteers, became a GriefLiner after hearing about the support line from colleagues and going through the training program.

Over the years, the issues that she listens to have changed, becoming more complicated as society changes.

“We are hearing more from callers with poor mental health and who often struggle to receive the help they need either because mental health services are closing or that funding is not available to provide the support the caller needs,” she said.

“Increasingly we hear of people who do not seek help elsewhere, such as the local GP or family counselling etc. to discuss their loss and grief which adds to their loneliness and anxiety,” she said.

Financial issues caused by unemployment or family violence, pet bereavement, and the difficulty older migrants experience trying to settle into a new country and feeling estranged from their ‘Australian’ grandchildren are also emerging issues.

“Without GriefLine, many of the callers would fall through the cracks of society. What sets GriefLine apart is that we do not have a limit on the number of calls a person can make, unlike other helplines, which allows people time to build confidence and share their story,” she said.

“GriefLine may not be life-saving as in averting a crisis but it is life-saving as in preventing someone from sliding further into depression.”

Outside GriefLine, Sue is immersed in family life with eleven grandchildren to mind, and nine children to maintain contact with. She also volunteers as a tribunal member for Sandringham Basketball Association.

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