Samaritans – Can I help you?
As a child in the 1960s I vividly remember watching a drama programme called Samaritans – Can I help you? I never forgot it and decided that one day I would become a Samaritan.
During the 80s and 90s I volunteered regularly, mainly with the scouting and girl guiding movement. As an ex nurse and a trained first aider my skills came in handy, particularly on camping trips and outings.
It was in 2000 when I moved to Essex that I knew the time was finally right for me to pursue my dream of becoming a Samaritan.
The application process can take some time and is very thorough. First you are interviewed by two practising Samaritans, then there is a selection process and if you are successful you go on to do training (2.5 hours per week over a period of 10 weeks). Once this has been completed, successful candidates go on to the second part of the training in which they will be allocated a mentor.
Even after this, no matter how long you have been a Samaritan, there is ongoing training of 5 hours annually to stay up to date with new developments. It’s now possible to both email and text Samaritans and it’s important to know how to respond other than verbally.
The calls we take are totally confidential and anonymous and reported to no one but we sometimes have people visit the branch so we have to know how to deal with people face to face too.
Being a Samaritan has taken me into prisons where we offer support to prisoners but also train prisoners to be Samaritan listeners. Samaritans also work with Network Rail to offer support to staff and passengers when, for example, there has been a fatal incident on the line. Samaritans have a ‘Festival’ branch where volunteers are specially trained to provide outreach support at Music Festivals for example.
Asked why she enjoys being a Samaritan so much Jo told us:
“Over the last 16 years I have held various roles with the Samaritans and I think it is the feeling that without judging or giving advice you can listen while someone talks through their problem and sometimes people will thank you for helping them even though having talked through their problem aloud they have come to their own conclusion”.
If you need to contact Samaritans for help or support you will find the details you need at www.samaritans.org
If you would like know more about volunteering with Samaritans please click on the links below or click here to contact your local Volunteer Centre.