Help a call away
AELAINE Watson looks like anyone's friendly neighbour, housewife and favourite grandmother. And she is all of those things.
But she is also more. For someone far away and desperately in need of a friendly voice, she is a lifeline.
Elaine Watson is a trained Lifeline telephone counsellor, one of the people whose voices can mean so much to people who are lonely, unhappy, sick or desperate.
Once counsellors enter the Lifeline Call Centre for work, they get a new name. What they hear while at work stays behind when they leave.
Mrs Watson has been a trained counsellor for eight years and says hardly anyone knows about her Lifeline work.
"I like doing it. I like helping people. Mostly, you listen, you don't talk.
"You know you are talking to someone who need help. Often they need to talk to someone who is anonymous. They often don't want family or friends to know.
"People talk about family breakdowns, mental health, depression, anxiety - a lot of people are just lonely and want someone to talk to. Then there are parenting problems, drinking problems, gambling problems and even suicide calls."
Lifeline, which has 130 Coffs Coast telephone counsellors and centres in both Coffs Harbour and Grafton, is desperate for more funds and for more volunteers to keep its services running.
Lifeline also provides face-to-face counselling, community and corrective services programs, traineeships, work for the dole training and runs opportunity shops.
Calls to lifeline's telephone counselling service can be made on 131 114. For other Lifeline services, the office can be contact- ed on 66514093.
n There will be a fundraising dinner dance for Lifeline on May 20 at the Coffs Harbour Surf Lifesaving Club. Tickets are $30, phone 6651 4093.