What does volunteering mean? Where does the strength for commitment come from? How do you manage to build up this closeness to the people and still maintain a distance in order to remain emotionally healthy? I started this project because of these questions.
Since last year I photographed and spoke with different counselors from KJT Berlin and ET Berlin.
The Kinder- und Jugendtelefon Berlin (KJT Berlin) and Elterntelefon Berlin (ET Berlin) are anonymous and free telephone counseling services in Berlin that offer open-topic support to young people and parents - appreciative, empowering, at eye level.
76 volunteers are involved in the KJT Berlin and 35 in the ET Berlin. They donate their time and open their ears to the questions and concerns of the people who call. They take care of the first heartbreak or the quarrel with the pubescent son, but are also there in acute crisis situations, for example, when it comes to illness, death or experiences of violence.
Before the volunteers take up their duties on the telephone, they undergo intensive, in-depth training that prepares them for the challenges of this valuable honorary office. After the training, they regularly take part in supervision and further training.
During the pandemic I approached "Nummer gegen Kummer" and suggested them this project and with the wonderful help of them I was able to have deep conversations about volunteering and motivation.
"IT'S SIMPLY ABOUT BEING THERE AND LISTENING. IT'S SUPER NICE THAT I CAN BE A SAFE SPACE AND THAT THE PEOPLE SEEKING ADVICE CAN SIMPLY SHOW THEMSELVES TO ME FOR A SHORT TIME, AS THEY ARE. WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY THAT THEIR MOTHER WILL THINK THEY'RE WEIRD AFTERWARDS OR THAT THEIR FRIENDS WON'T WANT TO SEE THEM ANYMORE."
Freddy has been a counselor at the Berlin Child and Youth Helpline for a year. He got the idea to get involved with the "Nummer gegen Kummer" through a friend. The most important thing about the job for him: the fun of it and the opportunity to help others. He describes himself as quiet and thoughtful, friendly and musical. His calm nature helps him in conversations to give space to people seeking advice and to listen to them patiently. "I find it very valuable that I can talk to so many different people on the phone. It gives me so many new impressions and a different view of the world." Important before the first phone call: getting down and arriving - with sweets and tea. After the service, he takes time to review the conversations. He finds compensation in music; he plays drums in a band and has taught himself to play bass. In music, there are always new things to discover and learn; this is where he can "dig in". When it comes to getting his mind off things, he prefers sports - whether it's playing Frisbee with friends, table tennis, badminton, bouldering or climbing, the main thing is to let off steam.
"IF YOU THINK VOLUNTEERING DOESN'T BRING YOU MUCH. ALL I CAN SAY IS: YES, IT DOES!"
"IT'S A TOTAL SIGN OF TRUST WHEN I CAN ESTABLISH A RAPPORT WITH A COMPLETE STRANGER AND THE PERSON TELLS ME THEIR STORY. AND WHEN YOU COME TO A SOLUTION TOGETHER IN THE END, IT'S A GREAT FEELING!"
"HELPFUL FOR WORKING AT THE PARENT HOTLINE IS NOT TO BE AFRAID OF THE ALL TOO HUMAN, BECAUSE YOU WILL EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING. THE ABYSSES AND ALSO THE BEAUTIFUL STORIES."