Every July, Samaritans branches in the UK 🇬🇧 and the Republic of Ireland 🇮🇪 hold local events to raise awareness that volunteers are here 24/7 to listen to anyone who’s struggling to cope. Whether it’s a virtual chat or a picnic in the park, Talk to Us is one of the ways to raise awareness that the Samaritans are there for anyone who needs someone to listen, without judgement or pressure.
The Samaritans have been around for over 65 years, helping those who need it. The organisation was founded by a vicar called Chad Varah in London in 1953. Throughout his career, Chad had offered counselling to his parishioners and wanted to do something more specific to help people. On 2nd November 1953, he answered the very first phone call to the brand new organisation to support those contemplating suicide. In his own words, the service was just “a man willing to listen, with a base and an emergency telephone”. Back then, the Samaritans was a far cry from the organisation of 22,000 volunteers there are today.
“I’m deeply appreciative and full of admiration for everything all these remarkable volunteers do. I’m sure you’ll go on to grow in strength and effectiveness”
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, celebrating 60 years of the Samaritans in 2013
As well as raising awareness about the organisation, the Samaritans are also aiming to encourage us to become better listeners. There will be a dedicated Samaritans Awareness Day on Sunday 24th July, which anybody can take part in. Becoming a better listener can help you support loved ones who may be finding it difficult to cope. It could also help strengthen your relationships with your family, friends and colleagues. You could help your loved ones open up about how they’re feeling by making some small changes to the way you listen. You could try to:
- Make eye contact and put your phone away to help you focus completely on whoever you’re talking with.
- Not interrupt – you don’t always need to fill the silence.
- Check-in on loved ones more often – remember it can take a few attempts to get someone to open up about how they are feeling.
Today, the Samaritans are working to create a suicide-safer internet and to offer support to help tackle the negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Every ten seconds, they respond to a call for help, with no judgement or pressure. They are there to help those who need it. For more information about what they do and how to get help if you need it, you can visit their website.