This Christmas, the Herald is featuring 12 charities which have been chosen to get a $10,000 grant from Auckland Airport, as part of its 12 Days of Christmas charity campaign. The $120,000 comes from generous travellers who donate money in globes throughout the airport.

When Emma Gunn answers a call to the Youthline helpline, she is not only listening, but trying to put herself in the caller's shoes.

Her training kicks in and in that moment, is doing her best to be the supportive friend that young person might desperately need.

The 19-year-old is one of hundreds of volunteers who work on the Youthline Helpline based in call centres around the country.


"When I'm on a call, I really feel like almost holding their hand in that process.

"It's empowering to feel that," she said.

Youthline Auckland is one of 12 charities to receive $10,000 in the Auckland Airport 12 Days of Christmas initiative, which gives $120,000 to charities from money donated by the travelling public in the last year.

The charity has long been well-respected as a youth development organisation with support services that builds leadership and personal skills in young people.

Its $10,000 grant will go towards the training of staff like Gunn - contribution to the costs providing volunteer training and education seminars to more than 200 volunteers connected to the 25/7 Helpline.

Each volunteer can participate in up to 120 hours of full training.

As well as the helpline in Auckland, there are several based around the country - including in Wellington, Palmerston North, Dunedin and Christchurch.

Gunn said she initially signed up as she thought it would be helpful experience in her chosen field of study - psychology.


But being a part of the helpline team had helped herself in ways she did not expect.

"It trains you to be more aware of yourself and it's also really helped me to reflect on how I respond to things.''

Auckland Airport spokeswoman Helen James said they loved the work the charity was doing to support young people.

"It's great we can help to ensure their volunteers have opportunities to upskill, so they can continue to deliver outstanding service.''

The Youthline Helpline is: 0800 376 633, free text 234 and email