As part of BGFCU’s efforts to improve on the telephone counseling service, a visit was organized to the Befrienders, Kuala Lumpur situated along Jalan Templer, Petaling Jaya. A total of 16 para-counselors attended the event which was hosted by Bro. Kenny Lim, the Executive Director who was also a volunteer serving the centre.
He took us through the history of the Befrienders from its roots in the UK to Malaysia. He also shared with us some important statistics and some current caller trends, eg the increasing use of email counseling, and lately, chat messaging which is popular with the younger generation. He was also generous in sharing what they did in promoting their services and their reach-out program. Befrienders are so established now that the organisers of various events invite them to participate rather than they go looking for opportunities to work with others. They also have reached out to universities, colleges and other educational institutions to give talks and conduct workshops.
All Befrienders volunteers undergo rigorous training of 8 weeks which requires at least a 90% attendance rate followed by intensive interviews to select helpers with good listening skill, self-awareness and commitment. Their volunteers are required to do 3 hours duty per week and once a month overnight duty. They have 100 plus volunteers with ongoing training every month. They organise get-together sessions from time to time to maintain bonding and to refresh and support their volunteers. They have a Professional Advisory Panel that includes psychiatrists and qualified counselors,
We had an open and frank discussion and exchange about Befrienders’ experiences serving the community since 1970, and left with new insights and learnings that give us useful ideas to move forward with clear directions to improve BGFCU’s own telephone service.
Sis. Liung Miao Shan
20 December 2018