Who are the Samaritans and What Do They Do?

The Samaritans


You can phone the Samaritans day or nnight
Image by Bryan Santos from Pixabay

On the 24th of July, the Samaritans had an awareness day. The charity wants the 24th and the rest of July to be about their Talk to Us campaign.

How the Samaritans Began

The Samaritans was founded in 1953 by a vicar called Chad Varah. He said “In an emergency, the citizen turns to the telephone and dials 999. There ought to be an emergency number for suicidal people, I thought.”

He started to take calls with the help of his secretary, Vivian on the 2nd of November 1953 and they recognise this day as the Samaritans’ official birthday. By 1954 volunteers were working with Chad and by the end of the decade, there was a branch of the Samaritans in London and Edinburgh.

What it’s become

Since then, of course, the charity has expanded and there are over 200 branches and about 22,000 volunteers. They receive a call every 10 seconds.

You can call the Samaritans if you need to talk about your problems or if someone else is worrying you.

The listening campaign

Their listening campaign began in 2015. You might have seen the posters they use in stations across England, Scotland, and Wales. The posters show the back of a person’s head. Above the photos are typical comments made by people who speak to the Samaritans. They are typical things you might say to a friend, but they have a hidden meaning. What they are really saying is “I need help” or “I can’t cope.”

The Samaritans also made a YouTube video that explains how a person would reveal they are struggling to when talking to a friend.

How to contact the Samaritans

You can phone the Samaritans free of charge 24 hours a day, 354 days of the year. The phone number is 116 123. If you don’t want to phone you can email or write them a letter. Their email address is jo@samiritans.org and their address is Freepost, SAMARITANS LETTERS.

Other resources

As well as their listening campaign the Samaritans provide programmes and help in:

  • The Workplace
  • Schools
  • Prisons
  • The Military
  • Health & Care

They also provide telephone numbers or email addresses of any other organisations that may be able to help you.

Alcoholics Anonymous or Drinkline for alcohol-related problems. Cruse or child bereavement if you’re having difficulty coping with a death. Plus, many other resources for a wide range of issues.  Have a look here on their website.

How to become a volunteer

You can become a volunteer listener for the Samaritans. The first thing you should do is complete the online enquiry form and then they might invite you for an interview. If you pass that stage, you’ll then go on to training.

As vacancies become available the branch will contact you. You’ll then receive training and mentoring before you become a listener. The training is over 5 to 10 sessions, and a mentor will be with you for your first few shifts.

The Samaritans say they are looking for volunteers who are:

  • Open-minded
  • Discreet
  • Supportive
  • Empathetic
  • Honest
  • Accepting

It doesn’t matter if you have used the Samaritan service or if you have been in prison (under certain circumstances) you can still apply to become a listener.

Volunteers listeners will typically work one shift a week for 3 to 4 hours. Every 4 to 8 weeks you’ll be expected to work a night shift of around 4-6 hours. Travelling expenses are covered.

Donating to the Samaritans

You can also support the Samaritans by taking part in fund-raising events or leaving them money in your Will or making a donation through your bank, using a cheque or with a credit/debit card over the phone.

Don’t forget if you need help the Samaritans are available 24/7. You can phone, free of charge on 116 123.

Here at VSM pharmacy, we can’t help you like the Samaritans, but we can provide you with advice about any medication you’ve been prescribed for depression or anxiety – just ask, we’ll be happy to help.

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