About 30 years ago Rotorua's Greg Halse was working and indulging in one or two recreational activities he enjoyed.
But he thought it would perhaps be prudent to offer some of his time to help others.
Three decades after becoming part of Lifelink/Samaritans, he has no clue as to how many hours he has volunteered but said it had all been worthwhile.
"When I made the decision to become involved in some volunteer work, Lifelink just happened to be advertising a need for people," Halse said. "The rest, as they say, is history."
Fast forward to today, Halse is now the operations manager for the region covering the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.
The charity provides confidential help to those in need and takes calls covering issues from relationship problems and loneliness, to addiction and mental health.
In the past year, the service in the region received almost 3500 calls. Of those, nearly 1500 related to health and mental health problems.
"It's been a journey but I do believe I have taken things out as well as put things in," Halse said. "I've learned new skills and met new people."
He said the role was ever-changing, even from day-to-day.
"When the phone rings you don't know what you're going to get. It could be an extreme trauma call or what we call a non-problem call – you really do get the full spectrum."
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According to Halse, there have been changes in the past 30 years.
"I'd say in the early years there was more relationship-type issues but nowadays there are a lot more calls relating to mental health issues. I can't say why although perhaps there is less stigma about mental health these days, more people are willing to talk about problems than they once were."
Ministry of Health figures show that in the 2016/17 year, 17.7 per cent of the Lakes DHB population had depression.
This compared with 16.8 per cent of the Bay of Plenty DHB population.
This figure represented those who had been told by a doctor they had depression so was likely to underestimate the true number.
"In an era when many people are increasingly isolated and disconnected, our service provides a confidential listening and support telephone service.
"A listening ear can make all the difference."
Halse said without volunteers, a great many phone calls would go unanswered.
"A few years ago we went through the exercise of trying to put a monetary figure on the work of volunteers. Considering the service we offer is available 24/7, 365 days of the year, you'd imagine the figure was quite substantial.
"I can't actually recall the amount but I do recall even we [the volunteers] were surprised."
He said considering the funding the service had to operate on, paying for the work carried out by volunteers would be impossible.
"It's also difficult maintaining volunteer numbers," Halse said.
"We are always on the lookout for new volunteers – ones who are good listeners and open-minded.
"We provide all the training and ongoing support required and most of our training and the work itself is now done from the comfort of your own home, using online training and diverted phone lines for when on duty. Without our amazing volunteers this life-saving service would never exist."