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FMA UK National Helpline Volunteers


FMA UK’s National Helpline is manned by volunteers, the majority of whom have fibromyalgia themselves (those who do not are family/friends of someone with fibromyalgia).   This article aims to give you an idea of what it is like to be a helpline volunteer.  The quotes supplied are from volunteers past and present, and give a reflection on how they feel about volunteering. 

Our helpline volunteers are often the first person you speak to when contacting the charity, and may even be the first person you have spoken to that also has fibromyalgia, especially when you are newly diagnosed.  

The helpline receives a variety of calls such as

  • someone who is newly diagnosed looking for an information pack and/or their nearest support group
  • someone wanting to talk about a new symptom and whether it might fibro
  • family/friends looking for ways they can support the person with fibromyalgia
  • health professionals and other professionals such as social prescribers, social workers etc looking for information
  • employers looking to support an employee
  • a caller who just needs to talk to someone who understands. 

This article was initially written from the perspective of one volunteer, but has been updated and edited to include quotes from more of our volunteers

”Working on the FMA UK helpline is certainly a varied and rewarding experience.  For me, I am glad to play my part in helping other people with FM by simply listening to them and letting them know that I understand what they are going through.

At times people are upset but they always say that they feel better for talking to someone and there is always something you can say that will be helpful to them. The majority of people are so relieved to talk about how fibromyalgia affects them because their friends and family don't understand.  I can hear the relief in their voices and by the time we say goodbye they sound totally different. That is very rewarding because I know that I have made a difference.

When it is my day to be on the helpline I always make sure I get up in plenty of time to have breakfast, take pills, wash and dress, so I am ready to sign on at the right time.  I have everything I will need on the table in front of me and make sure that I have plenty of telephone answering sheets ready as you never know how many calls you will have. Sometimes I may just get two or three calls, but when there is an article in the paper or a magazine or an item on TV the helpline can be busier

I usually do three or four half days a month, but you can do as little or as much as you like.  There are of course some days when I am feeling rough and really don't want to get out of bed, but I am always glad I have done my stint on the helpline as talking to others usually makes me feel so much better too.” – S

“I always feel really good about myself when I’ve done a shift on the helpline, and I love hearing the difference in someone’s voice just by talking to someone who understands.  Callers often feel vindicated, knowing that it’s not all in their head and their symptoms may be linked to fibro” – M

“When someone comes off the phone hopefully feeling a little lighter than when they came on the all it makes me feel really privileged that I was able to help another person living with chronic pain.” – J

“Being a helpline volunteer makes me feel valued in society and privileged that I can offer support to those who may need help or information.”  At the beginning of a call, the person may feel lonely, confused or sad and often by the end they are calmer and relieved.” – J

“I feel proud to volunteer for FMA UK.  I am able to use some of my own experience of this illness to help others.   The helpline provides much needed support and information to our callers, making them feel listened to and taken seriously when often they feel isolated, alone and with no-one to talk to.  The helpline is a lifeline and callers often comment that they feel better for our understanding.” – L

“It is rewarding and fulfilling to be a volunteer.  To help others means so much, even if it is simply providing re-assurance to the caller that they are listened to and have a voice.” - S

Could you be a future helpline volunteer?
FMA UK is always glad of new helpline volunteers to enable us to cover the helpline 100% of the time.   The helpline is open Monday – Friday 10.00 – 4.00.  This is split into 2 x 3 hour shifts (10.00-1.00 and 1.00-4.00).   You do not need any experience – just the ability to listen and talk to callers.   Full support is provided by the office, and there is training provided through our membership of the Helplines Partnership (online 1 day course). 

Volunteers chose how often they wish to be on the helpline, and whether they wish to do morning or afternoon slots.   Some volunteers do one slot a month, others one or two a week.

If you are interested in being considered as a Helpline Volunteer, please email Head Office for our National Helpline Role document which contains more information on the role and complete our volunteer enquiry form.  If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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