May 9, 2019 3:56 pm
Updated: May 10, 2019 2:54 pm

Canadian child crisis text support lines in need of volunteers

WATCH: There's a call across the country for “texting buddies” to help Canadian children in crisis. Shelley Steeves has more.

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There’s a call across the country for “texting buddies” to help Canadian children in crisis.

Both the Kids Help Phone and Bullying Canada are short on volunteers and with text messages chiming in often, the organizations say it has been a challenge to keep up.

“Since launching we have taken over 80,000 conversations with young people from every corner of Canada,” said Alisa Simon, chief youth officer for Kids Help Phone.

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“We are doing four to five active rescues every day, which means we are out there saving young people’s lives.”

READ MORE: Young people can now text for mental health help through Kids Help Phone across Canada

Simon said since texting is how young people communicate these days, Kids Help Phone started a nationwide crisis text line. Since its launch last November, she said its success has been overwhelming.

With more than 200,000 text conversations expected by the end of this year, Simon said the Kids Crisis Text Line needs to more than double their current 900-person volunteer pool to keep up with demand.

“We believe that the service will grow as more and more young people learn about it, and our real need right now is particularly for bilingual volunteers,” Simon said. “So if you speak French and English, come join us at Kids Help Phone. We want you.”

WATCH: Kids Help Phone Crisis Text Line marks 1 year of service

Bullying Canada is also in need of more “SMS buddies.” The non-profit organization that helps support kids who are being bullied launched their text platform in mid-March.

PJ Ryan, a spokesperson for the registered charity, said they are getting far more messages than expected, and replies at times are lagging.

“We want it to be one on one and immediate rather than having someone kind of waiting for a few minutes,” Ryan said.

READ MORE: Crisis texting service will soon take off across Canada

Bullying Canada needs at least 100 more volunteers to respond to those instant messages without delay.

Both Bullying Canada and Kids Help Phone said they will train volunteers how to properly respond to text messages, and have teams of trained counsellors on hand to offer backup to people who do want to become volunteers.

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