No festive rest for Samaritans

By Gary Smee Friday 03 January 2014 Updated: 03/01 09:21

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IN 2012, the county branch of Samaritans took almost 12,500 phone calls, answered more than 800 e-mails and received just under 10,000 silent calls from people who felt they had no-one else to go to.

The final figure for 2013 is expected to be similar if not slightly more.

At this time of year many people are enjoying a well-deserved break, but for the Samaritans’ thousands of volunteers in all corners of the country there is no time to rest as the phone-lines have to be manned 24 hours a day.

The county branch, which has just relocated to a new office at 10 Sansome Place, Worcester, has almost 120 dedicated volunteers who give up their own time to help others in need.

Jan Cowton, spokeswoman for the branch, said although many people think of Samaritans as a helpline for people threatening suicide, they were there to deal with an array of problems.

“We’re trying to encourage people to phone us because people say to us, ‘we don’t want to bother you, you’re only really there if people want to kill themselves,’ but we’re not,” she said.

“We’re here for everything. There are specifically targeted helplines, but when we were set up, we were the first helpline.

“Name a problem and we’ll help with it - debt, relationship break ups, illness, loneliness is at the bottom of so much of it. Anything you can think of, we deal with.

“If there’s another organisation that we’re partnered with which could possibly give more specific in depth help, we’ll point out they exist.”

All of Worcester Samaritans volunteers have to undergo an extensive training programme to make sure they are ready to deal with the most difficult of calls from suicide to abuse.

Jan said one of their biggest advantages was that anyone could come to them in complete confidence.

“We give emotional support. The biggest thing we are about is that we are completely confidential,” she said.

“They can tell us absolutely anything and it’s going nowhere. It’s the thing that really sets us apart.

“We’re trained to ask the sort of questions that will help people open up. We explore with a caller what their options are but we like the answers to come from the caller because if we suggest something they’ll probably say thank you very much and off they go and it doesn’t help.

“We don’t try to talk people out of killing themselves because it doesn’t work. If they want to kill themselves, they will, but what we do is try and get to the root cause underneath and see if we can get the caller to think through why they have got to that stage. And whether if that is really what they want to do.

“The very very bottom line, is that if that is what they really want, then that’s their choice and we’ll still be there and we’ll stay there and we won’t try to argue with them, but we will explore every avenue first.”

To get in touch with Worcester Samaritans call 01905 21121 or the 24-hour helpline on 08457 90 90 90.

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