Samaritans on Buses Get People Talking

Buses around Britain are carrying the message that no matter what you’re going through in life, Samaritans is there and ‘We Listen’.

More than six hundred buses in around 150 areas of England, Scotland and Wales are sporting the charity’s slogan and free-to-call phone number throughout March, in a campaign supported by the rail industry that’s expanding across the transport network, as well as hospitals, GP surgeries and sports events.

Samaritans’ Programme Manager Ola Rzepczynska said: ‘Life is tough and anyone can feel overwhelmed. Our specially trained volunteers will listen, whatever you need to talk about and no matter what is going on in your life. By advertising our helpline on buses, we hope to reach more people and let them know that anyone can contact Samaritans. It’s free to call and won’t show up on your phone bill.’

Samaritans has been working with the rail industry since 2010, promoting awareness of its services and training thousands of rail staff in suicide prevention skills. It’s We Listen campaign, launched last year, has featured on electronic signs and posters in stations all over the UK, and on the back of train tickets.

Three times more people die by suicide every year in the UK than by road traffic accidents. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and of young men and women aged 24 to 35. As Samaritans’ Dying from Inequality report published last week illustrates, social and economic disadvantage also increases suicide risk, with men from the poorest backgrounds ten times more likely to take their own lives than those from the wealthiest backgrounds.

By taking the campaign beyond the rail environment, Samaritans and the rail industry hope to encourage people from all walks of life to reach out for help and not suffer in silence, using the message ‘We don’t just hear you, we listen’.

Network Rail Programme Manager Ian Stevens said: ‘Every death by suicide is a tragedy and has a traumatic impact on everyone involved. By extending the reach of the We Listen campaign and letting more people know about Samaritans’ services, together we can save more lives. By advertising on buses Samaritans stands to reach hundreds of thousands of people with the message that support is available, you don’t have to struggle alone.’

London Midland Trains Managing Director Patrick Verwer said: ‘We’re proud to be working with the wider rail industry and Samaritans to let people know that support is there for anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed. The further that message travels, the better, and buses, hospitals and GP surgeries are ideal places to take this campaign further.’

Members of the public are being asked to look out for the campaign and help spread the word on social media using the hashtag #WeListen. In Wales, the adverts are bilingual as Samaritans is promoting both its English and Welsh language support services through the buses initiative. A separate campaign is also targeting motorists in Wales in both languages with details of Samaritans’ free-to-call number on petrol pumps.

Samaritans’ We Listen campaign also reached millions of rugby union fans through advertising in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium during Wales’ victory over Ireland in last week’s Six Nations clash.

Anyone can contact Samaritans. Whatever you’re going through, call for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.

For further information, photos and interviews about Samaritans’ We Listen campaign and partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.

Picture caption:  Samaritans’ #WeListen campaign features on buses throughout March.

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Notes to editors:

  • Samaritans responds to more than 5.4 million calls for help every year, offering emotional support by phone, email, text and face to face in its 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.  For more information, please see www.samaritans.org
  • Samaritans works with the rail industry to prevent deaths on the railways and support those affected by them.
  • In 2015/16, rail staff, the police and the public intervened in more than 1,100 suicide attempts on the railway
  • For more information please see www.samaritans.org/for-business/rail-industry-suicide-prevention-programme
  • Samaritans Dying from Inequality report was released on 6 March 2017. It looks in detail at the links between socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour. Read the summary report here: http://www.samaritans.org/dying-from-inequality
  • Advertising areas for Samaritans’ We Listen campaign have been carefully chosen to reflect the higher risk of suicide in areas of socioeconomic deprivation