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SANEline Volunteer FAQs

As a SANEline volunteer, you will make a real difference and support people affected by mental illness. Our trained volunteers support on our helpline, textcare and email service. All of our volunteering opportunities are available at our office in London.

Below are a few questions we are asked regularly if you have a question not answered below please don’t hesitate to email us at

Do I need a background in psychology or mental health to be a volunteer?

No, great volunteers can come from any background. It’s more important that you can show warmth and empathy, stay with difficult feelings and listen without judgement. It’s enough to have an interest in mental health as our training will give you the knowledge and skills you need.

Is there an age limit for volunteers?

Our work focuses on adults and, due to the content, volunteers generally need to be 21 or over. There is no upper limit and we are keen to attract older candidates with more life experience.

What level of commitment does SANE expect from me?

We ask volunteers to commit to one shift a week, with at least one a month at a weekend, and to stay with us for at least a year after completing training. This allows you time to develop your practice and learn from a wide range of callers, who in turn gain more from experienced and committed volunteers.

How long are shifts and what times do they run?

Shifts are usually in four hours blocks. For SANEline and Textcare you can choose from the following times:

  • 4pm to 8pm
  • 5pm to 9pm
  • 6pm to 10pm

I can’t do some days in the week. Can I still volunteer?

That’s fine as you sign up for your own shifts. It’s more important that you can work one shift a week and can make a commitment for approximately a year.

How much training and support can I expect?

Everyone attends a day of core skills training.

SANEline training currently runs for three days, usually over a weekend plus one evening the following week for successful candidates. You must be able to attend all the days to move on to taking calls. For Textcare, training is one day plus one evening the following week. Office volunteers do most of their training on shift.

During your first nine shifts as a volunteer you will be in your induction phase, and receive active support from staff on shift be in regular contact with the Volunteer Programme Manager, who will continue to support you through your time at SANE.

We provide skills development sessions, usually every couple of months. These are an opportunity to reflect on your work, talk through any issues and spend time with other volunteers and SANE staff.

If you stay with us for a year or more, you can apply to become one of our many senior volunteers.

I live outside London and would like to volunteer locally. Does SANE have other branches, or can I volunteer from home?

SANE’s offices are in Islington, north London, and our coverage is country-wide. All our volunteer roles are based in our offices due to the nature of the work and to make sure you have support whenever you need it.

That said, you don’t have to volunteer to become a member of the SANE community. There are lots of other ways to get involved and make a difference, such as fundraising, blogging or supporting our campaigns on social media.

Find out more ways to get involved.

Can I claim travel expenses? Could this turn into a permanent or paid position over time?

We can reimburse travel expenses up to the value of a one-day Travelcard within the Greater London area. Volunteer roles are designed specifically as voluntary positions. Paid positions are advertised internally and externally and we welcome all applications.

What kind of references do you provide for volunteers?

The type of reference depends on how long you’ve volunteered with us. We provide more detailed references if you complete six months or more.

How to apply

If you are London-based and would like to be considered for our current training cycle, please register your interest:

Click to register your interest

If you have any questions please email us at

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