"Samaritans. Can I help you?"

by Michael Ford last modified 08 Jan, 2019 01:04 PM

“If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme please ring . . .” Have you ever heard or read this message, perhaps following a dramatic storyline on the television or radio, and wondered who will answer that phone call?

"Samaritans. Can I help you?"

Samaritans volunteers in Old George Mall, courtesy the Samaritans website

If the number is 116 123, then it is the freecall number for Samaritans, and a calm voice will ask "Samaritans. Can I help you?"

The volunteer on duty won’t know what to expect when the phone rings, who the caller is or what will be said, or even where they are calling from. However, according to the charity they will know they are there to listen and offer non-judgemental, confidential emotional support in that caller's time of need.

Nationally Samaritans receive a contact every 6 seconds – approximately 5 million last year and since 2017 the Salisbury branch has responded to more than 20,000 telephone calls, 1500 emails and 3,000 text messages.

Julie Clamp, a trustee for External Affairs for Salisbury & District Samaritans said:
“Calls come through to Samaritans at any time of the day or night, and often the night time calls are amongst some of the most rewarding, as callers often feel more alone then, and problems seem far worse.

“Our volunteers have their own unique skills and experiences. We don’t work from a script and we understand how important it is to give callers the time and space to say what they need to talk about.”

But the Branch is in need of more volunteers on the end of the phone when those calls come in and Julie says that all that is needed is the ability to listen:
“Has anyone told you that you’re a good listener or that you’re someone who is easy to talk to? If so, how about putting those listening skills to good use by becoming a Samaritans volunteer?

“We offer excellent training, supportive mentoring, and an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the emotional well-being of others.

“In return we ask for 18 hours of your time over a period of five weeks, to fit in with your family, work, and life in general.”

The Salisbury Branch also offers information evenings where you can learn more about the Samaritans and meet some of the volunteers who work in there.

If you would like to find out more about what it takes to be a listening volunteer or to find out more about the information evenings then email or leave a message on the answerphone at 01722 330672.

The Salisbury branch website is here.

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