When did you become Patron of Samaritans of Bournemouth and District? Why did you decide to do so?
I became Patron in May 2011, because I share with Samaritans the desire to relieve distress in our community. I believe that my role as Patron enables me to show my commitment to mental health issues and to use the media facilities of Bournemouth University to help in spreading awareness about the work of Samaritans.
What are your responsibilities?
I am the public face of Samaritans in our local community. While some ‘listening volunteers’ are happy to speak publicly about the work of Samaritans, others are reluctant to do so, and this is where I can play a part in spreading the word about the fabulous work done by the Charity.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
I enjoy communicating to the general public the great work done by Samaritans in helping not only those who are suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts but also those who are feeling lonely and isolated. People of all ages call Samaritans, from students to pensioners. We hope that they will all benefit from the opportunity to discuss their problems with a friendly ‘listening volunteer’.
What do you find most difficult about your role?
The perennial problem of fundraising is foremost amongst my concerns. Many people believe that Samaritans is funded by the government or local authority – but we do not receive any funding from those sources. Others consider that, since Samaritans is a nationwide charity, each branch will receive funding from the General Office – but this is usually not the case. Our funding comes from our generous donors, whether by putting coins in our collection boxes as we stand outside supermarkets or by leaving us bequests in their wills. Fundraising is an essential part of our activities in order to keep our branch open and we're grateful to the local companies that have provided funding for various projects.
More information about Dr Andrew Mayers is available on his website: www.andrewmayers.info