We want you to feel safe while talking to us, so you can tell us how you’re really feeling. That’s why we’re totally confidential – we don’t share anything you say, or any of your personal or contact details, with any other person or organisation.
You don’t even have to tell us your name.
Keeping what you say between us
We believe that without our promise of keeping everything confidential, people who have the greatest need might never have the courage or trust to speak to us. It is fundamental to our service that no-one outside of Samaritans will know what you’ve told us – or even that you’ve been in touch with us.
We don’t share anything you say, or any personal or contact details, with anyone, including the police, health or social services. The few exceptions to this are listed below.
No names needed
We know that talking to someone you don't know can sometimes feel easier than talking to someone you do know, because you don't have to worry about their feelings or what they might think about you. That’s why you don't have to tell us your name – but of course you can, if you'd like to. We might ask your name, because it’s a natural question to ask in a conversation, but you don’t have to tell us or you can give us another name if that feels better.
We don’t know your contact details
Our service is designed so that we can’t see your phone number or email address when you contact us. The only way we’ll know your contact details is if you give them to us. This means that if you’d like us to give you a follow-up call, you’ll need to give us your details.
Keeping things private at your end
We understand you might want to keep the fact you’ve contacted us private. If this is the case, you might like to know that:
- if you call us, our number will show up on itemised phone bills
- if we call you, our number is withheld
- if we email you, the word ‘Samaritans’ will show in the title. For email, you might prefer to create an address specifically for writing to us, so our replies stay private.
- if we text, our number will appear on your mobile, under the name you have used to save our contact details
- if you text us, our number will show on your itemised bill
- if you come and see us in a branch, we’ll talk to you in a private room
- if you live near your local branch, we won’t say anything to you in the street if we pass you, unless you choose to talk to us.
What we do keep
We do share some information within Samaritans, because we work as a team to provide you with the best possible support.
If you continue calling us for some time, we may keep information you’ve given us to help us know it’s you when you call again, so we’re up to date with your situation. We’ll never pass any of this information on to any other organisation.
We also record some statistical information, to report on and improve our service. This includes information such as gender, and how distressed you were. This information never reports about specific people.
Exceptions to confidentiality
The only times we break confidentiality are if:
- you directly ask us to pass on information about you to someone else
- we receive a court order requiring us to share information
- we receive a call about acts of terrorism or bomb warnings
- you threaten the safety of our volunteers or the delivery of our service, for example by making it difficult for other people to get hold of us.