Privacy and cookies

At Samaritans we are committed to protecting your privacy. The purpose of this statement is to explain how Samaritans processes your data, whether you are using our service, interested in volunteering, making a donation or just browsing our website. 

Samaritans is made up of 201 branches in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, all of which are independent charities.  The branches are co-ordinated by Samaritans Central Charity.  Three branches within the branch network are not within the European Economic Area (EEA): Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.  These branches are however on the European Commission’s “safe” list of countries for personal data exports.  The branches in the Crown Dependencies are subject to the same policies and procedures as branches in the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

Samaritans takes appropriate technical and organisational measures to keep your data safe.  We do use “cloud-based” applications to process some types of personal data and data may be stored outside of the European Economic Area.  Where this happens we ask our suppliers to provide evidence that they have the appropriate measures in place to make sure that your data is secure.

As the service we provide changes, we may need to alter our privacy statement on the website. If you have any queries about this statement please contact the Data Protection Office at Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2AF or email at

If you use Samaritans’ service

Our service is designed so that the volunteer can’t see your phone number or email address when you contact us.  If we need to look into a call or series of calls (for example if you make a complaint), we can see calls made to Samaritans on our central system. Please be aware that your telephone number will be visible if you contact Samaritans Central Charity and it may be used to take action if your call is inappropriate or abusive.

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 and so we’re up to date with your situation. This is so we can offer you a better service.  We share this information within Samaritans, because we work as a team to provide you with the best possible support. We’ll never pass any of this information on to any other organisation, except in certain situations:

  • You directly ask us to pass on information about you to someone else
  • We are working in partnership with another organisation and you have given consent for your information to be shared
  • We call an ambulance if during the course of a contact if it appears that you are not able to make a decision for yourself.
  • 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.

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. We don’t record your phone calls to the helpline but volunteers and staff may listen into calls for training, support or research purposes.

We may contact you to offer our support if you are referred to us by another organisation or individual. Once we have contacted you we will destroy your contact details, unless you agree to further contact – in which case we will, with your consent, keep the contact details.

In order to manage the capacity of our service, if you contact us a lot in a short period of time we may get our system to limit the number of calls we will accept. If this happens to you, you will get a message that explains how to contact us to discuss your needs.

If we believe you are abusing our service, we may get our system to block your calls or messages from getting through. If this happens you will get a message that explains how to appeal this decision. If you can’t get through by phone, you will hear a message that explains how to appeal the decision.  If you receive a message saying that we won’t respond to you, or you don’t receive an answer to an email or SMS message, you can appeal our decision. Please contact the Caller Support Team on +44 (0) 20 8394 8300,  email or write to the Caller Support Team, Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey KT17 2AF. If you call Samaritans Central Charity, your telephone number will be visible to the Caller Support Team and may be logged for administrative purposes.

If you threaten our volunteers and we bar you from our service we may report your abuse to the police and circulate your CCTV image to local branches if this available.

If you want to complain

Samaritans aims to support our callers to the highest possible standard at all times. To help achieve this, we encourage anyone who is not completely happy with the service they have received to let us know immediately, either by contacting the branch involved or Central Charity (contact details below). All complaints will be investigated fully.  

It is important that you give as much information as possible in order to fully investigate your complaint. Your information will not be passed on to anyone outside of Samaritans. So we can effectively handle a complaint, we will in most cases need to involve  the Director of the branch involved to contact you directly.  This is done with your prior consent, so that we resolve the complaint.

It is our aim to resolve a complaint within 14 days of receiving it. In some cases, this isn’t possible but we will do our best to resolve it as soon as we can.

If you wish to, you can use the Complaints questionnaire here.

If you have any questions or wish to add information concerning your complaint, please contact a member of the Quality Team on +44(0)20 8394 8300 or email Please be aware that your telephone number will be visible to the Quality Team and may be logged for administrative purposes.

You can read the full Complaints Procedure here.

If you would like to volunteer with Samaritans

Samaritans Central Charity works with branches to support the recruitment and management of volunteers across both Central Charity and branches.  It processes volunteer data in the following ways:

If you contact Samaritans about volunteering

If you are interesting in volunteering with Samaritans, you will be asked to give us your personal details.  Most people contact us through our website (, however you can also enquire via the telephone, post, email, or at events.  You can also contact branches directly. Find your nearest branch here.

If you contact Samaritans Central Charity, we will pass this information on to your local Samaritans branch or the branch you have requested.  The branch will then contact you about volunteering at the branch. 

Samaritans Central Charity will also use this information to allow us to monitor requests for volunteering, assist you with any queries you might have regarding your volunteering application and ask you about your experience of applying to volunteer with us. 

We ask for information about age, disability, gender, employment status and ethnicity to help us with equal opportunities monitoring.  You are not required to give us this information, but by choosing to do so you consent to the processing of this information by us. 

If you apply to be a volunteer at a branch

Applications to volunteer need to be made to individual branches.  Your local branch will explain how you can do this.     

The branch may share some of the information that you give in  the application form with Central Charity.  It may also share information from your referees and the criminal records disclosure.  Information about you from a third party will only be used with your knowledge. 

The information provided will be used to make a decision about whether you will be accepted on to a Samaritans’ training course.   

Sharing information outside of Samaritans

Samaritans will keep your personal information confidential, unless we are required to disclose it in connection with a police investigation and/or we have reason to believe that you may present a risk of harm to others.

At your request we will provide a reference. 

If you donate to Samaritans

When you donate money to Samaritans, we may collect and process information about you. This information may include your financial details, name, email address, postal address, telephone or mobile number or date of birth. Some of this information may come from external sources.

ONLINE - When you make a donation via our website, the data is stored on a secure server. We also take appropriate measures to ensure the information disclosed to us is kept protected and up to date.  You can also donate to Samaritans online via PayPal, Virgin Money Giving or Just Giving websites (separate privacy statements apply).

MOBILE – You can donate to Samaritans via your mobile phone either on a one-off basis or through a monthly subscription service.  Click here for our text-to-donate T&Cs, which explain how to opt-out of further text or phone communication from us. We work with a supplier to provide and administer the text-to-donate service, and calls about this service including how to opt out of calls or texts, will be routed through this supplier (see our text-to-donate T&Cs for details).

DIRECT TO BRANCH – You can donate directly to a branch through their branch pages on this website.  Branches may also use either Virgin Money Giving or Just Giving websites (separate privacy statements apply) to process their online donations.

We are required by the Data Protection Act 1998 to ensure that any personal information you supply to us is only used for the purpose for which you provided it. When we request your personal information, if we tell you we will use it for a specific purpose, then we will only use it for that purpose.

Where you have given us permission to contact you, we may employ another organisation to contact you on our behalf.  Such an organisation may for example include a fundraising agency, and will always be calling solely on our behalf.

From time to time, Samaritans shares some donor information with other charities providing you have given consent for us to do so. We make sure that this is done safely and securely and done within with our own policies.

If your personal details change, please help us to keep your information up to date by notifying us at or directly to the branch that you support.  You can ask us to stop contacting you at any time by emailing us at the same address

Research at Samaritans

Samaritans undertakes research into suicide and self-harm, effective ways of providing support to people in distress and the needs and experiences of people using our services.  We use this to inform the development of our service and our work to influence government policy.

As well as the policies for the protection of data set out above, Samaritans has a Research Ethics Policy which applies to all research that involves contacting and collating information from current or past callers, volunteers and members of the general public and is carried out by Samaritans staff or volunteers, or external research teams that are supported or commissioned by the charity.

As per the Research Ethics Policy, informed consent is required for all activities that involve contact between researchers (whether Samaritans staff or from an external institution) and research participants. This means that participants must be fully informed about the project, including how any data provided will be used and the degree of anonymity and confidentiality provided, before agreeing to take part and must provide written consent.

All electronic and hard copy data collected during research is stored securely and is accessible only to designated researchers and for the purposes of the research.

From time to time the research team uses externally hosted websites to conduct surveys. These websites may be sited in countries or jurisdictions which do not provide the same level of data protection as the UK. Surveys contain information at the beginning about the purpose of research and how the data will be used, and participants are required to indicate that they consent to take part before they proceed to complete the survey. This information includes the fact that the website hosting the survey is outside of the UK, so by participating in the survey, they are providing  written consent to the transfer of any data they provide, including any personal details and sensitive personal data such as information about their emotional wellbeing. 

Complaints about research should be directed to the researcher leading the project or to the Head of Policy and Research at Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2AF

Using our website

Do we use 'Cookies' ?

Our website uses cookies, as almost all websites do, to help provide you with the best experience we can. Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer or mobile phone when you browse websites. You can find more information about cookies here.

Almost all websites use cookies to ensure that you can interact with our website successfully.

Our cookies help us:

  • Make our website work as you'd expect
  • Improve the speed/security of the site
  • Allow you to share pages with social networks like Facebook
  • Continuously improve our website for you
  • Make our services more efficient
  • Save you having to login every time you visit the site

We do not use cookies to:

  • Collect any personally identifiable information (without your express permission)
  • Collect any sensitive information (without your express permission)
  • Pass data to advertising networks
  • Pass personally identifiable data to third parties
  • Pay sales commissions

Our own cookies uses a number of different cookies:

  • SERVERID – used for load balancing, to ensure we deliver the website as quickly as possible
  • has_js – identifies whether your machine has Javascript, a very common piece of technology that allows forms to work, or open new windows, amongst other features

​Neither cookie remembers any personal information like name, or email address.

These cookies is deleted as soon as you close your browser window

Third party cookies

Google Analytics cookies

These cookies help tell Samaritans how many people have been to the site before, what time people visited the site and what pages were looked at. No personal information is stored.

  • _utma stores each user’s number of visits, time of the first visit, the previous visit and the current visit. Expires two years after your last visit to the site
  • utmb and _utmc checks how long a visitor stays on the site: when a visit starts and ends. These expire 30 minutes after your visit, or after 30 minutes of inactivity, or when you close your browser.
  • utmz tracks where a visitor came from (search engine, search keyword, link). Expires six months after it was last set

For more information, see Google’s help pages and Google’s privacy policy here.

Cookies when sharing content

So you can easily “Like”, “Tweet” or share our content on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, we have included sharing buttons on our site.

Cookies are set by Add This, Facebook and Twitter.

Add This provides the sharing mechanism to Facebook and Twitter. Their cookies are:

  • ssc – record the network you are sharing to
  • ssh and sshs – optimise the appearance of the sharing settings
  • uid – tracks your login to the service. Expires in 2 years

You can read the Add This privacy policy here. You can opt out of Add This cookies here.

Tweeting a page link automatically creates two cookies on your machine:

  • guest_id - This cookie is used to identify you to twitter. This cookie will expire in two years’ after creation.
  • Twitter_sess - This cookie remembers changes from page to page

You can read the Twitter privacy policy here.

Facebook sets a number of cookies when you log into its website. For more information, click here.

Cookie when making donations

Single donation

Sagepay cookies allow our online payment processing facility to know how much you wish to donate, so it can charge your credit/debit card appropriately:

  • JSESSIONID -assigns you a unique ID so it can differentiate you from other users
  • NSC_wjq-tbhfqbz-dpn – This cookie is used to store the session identifier of your SagePay Session.

No personal information or card information is recorded in the cookies, and the transaction takes place on secure web pages. These cookies are deleted when you close your browser. 

Sagepay's privacy policy can be read here.

Regular donation

  • __cfduid - This Globalsign cookie is a mechanism to protect from malicious traffic. No identity or personally identifiable information is associated with this cookie.

Globalsign's privacy policy is online here.

  • Session cookie – this cookie from Samaritans makes sure your browser remembers your details if you need to go back and change anything. This cookie is deleted when you finish the donation.

Paypal donation

If you choose to donate to Samaritans using PayPal, a number of cookies are placed on your machine to allow the transaction to go ahead. These are managed by PayPal.

You can find out more about PayPal’s privacy policy here.

Removing cookies

If you want to prevent our cookies being stored on your computer in future, you may do so by referring to your internet browser's instructions. You can do this by clicking on the "Help" menu.
You can find out how to do this on your computer here.

If you wish to prevent Google from collecting any information about your presence on our website, they offer a tool here.

Right of subject access

You have the right under the Data Protection Act 1998 to ask for a copy of the information we hold about you and to have any inaccuracies in your information corrected.  If you wish to make a subject access request we will ask you to:

  • Put the request in writing for the attention of the Data Protection Officer, at Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2AF. Or if you are in contact with a single branch, you can put your request in writing to that branch.
  • Provide proof of identity including your name and postal address.  If you are using the helpline, we will ask you  for information about your contacts to Samaritans  and to provide a copy of the telephone bill for the number you use to make calls to Samaritans
  • Pay a fee of £10

For your information we will only send a response to a subject access request to you by registered mail at a postal address.

You should also note that if we are unable to verify your identity, for example if you contact the service anonymously or use a different name to do so, it may not be possible to provide you with the information requested.