I'd like to volunteer, but...

Volunteering can be a big committment but it's also a life-changing experience. Find out if volunteering for Samaritans is right for you.

I'm not sure I'm the right kind of person

After you've registered your interest in volunteering with us, we'll invite you to a selection session at your local branch.

This will involve activities to explore your views, see how you interact with others and how you respond to different issues.

This helps us get to know each other, and both decide if Samaritans is right for you.

I don't have much spare time

Training as a listening volunteer takes place over several weeks or weekends, and then once you're trained up, the number of hours you give is agreed between you and your branch.

The number of hours you're asked to do varies due to the size of the branch and the number of volunteers.

Typically volunteers do a shift of 3-4 hours every week, including a night shift of 4-6 hours every 4-8 weeks.

I can’t afford travel costs to and from the branch for my shifts

Volunteers should not be out of pocket because of their volunteering. 

Volunteers can have their travel and other out of pocket expenses reimbursed.

I'm under 18 years old

You do need to be over 18 to be a listening volunteer for Samaritans.

Some support roles can be done under 18, so it's worth enquiring at your branch what vacancies they have. There is no upper age limit.

I'm a Police Officer

Police Officers and Special Constables (volunteer police officers) cannot be Samaritans listening volunteers because they have sworn an oath to prevent all offences.

In some circumstances this could contradict with our policy on confidentiality.

A Police Community Support Officer is a uniformed non-warranted officer who is a civilian member of police staff. They have not sworn the oath to prevent all offences and they are therefore eligible to volunteer as a Samaritans listening volunteer, if they are comfortable with Samaritans policy on confidentiality.

I have a disability

We'll encourage you to identify what support you might need to volunteer, and see if it’s possible and practical to meet your needs. 

We want volunteers from a range of backgrounds and circumstances, because we believe this helps us provide the best service for those who need us.

I've been a Samaritans caller

You can volunteer if you’ve used our services before, and the same is true if you have experience of mental health problems.

We recognise that your personal experiences can give you the understanding needed for supporting others.

The important thing is that you’re self-aware, in the right place in your life to be able to support others, and know when you need to ask for support from your branch, or take a break.

When you apply to be a volunteer, we won’t specifically ask if you’ve used Samaritans services before, or about any mental health diagnoses you may have had.

We’ll ask you why you want to volunteer with Samaritans, about any time when you’ve been distressed or down, and to think about how this affected you and what you did to cope.

We’ll ask you to think about how your past experiences could impact on your support for others.

I have a criminal record

Certain volunteers are required to undergo background checks. But even if you do have a criminal record, you may still be able to volunteer with us. Each case is considered individually, and you will be given the chance to tell us more about the offence if necessary. We handle criminal record information sensitively and confidentially. 

If you are worried about the impact of having a criminal record and how this may affect your volunteering, please do contact the volunteering team at Samaritans Central Office - 02083948300 or disclosures@samaritans.org 

I actually just need a placement for my counselling course. Can I do this at Samaritans?

It takes time to develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need for the listening role, which means that this role is not appropriate for those looking for short-term placements of less than a year. 

We invest in selecting, training and supporting listening volunteers, so we’re looking for people who want to stay with us for a while.

Some branches will have support role opportunities for those who want to volunteer for shorter periods of time, such as helping out with fundraising events or helping to publicise the work of the branch.

It makes me feel great, after a lot of training, mentoring and building up of experience, to be able, at last, to call myself a fully qualified Samaritans volunteer.


Find out about the training, and how often you'll need to be in the branch.

Apply to volunteer

or consider donating to Samaritans


If you have any queries about volunteering with Samaritans, please contact the Volunteer Recruitment team:

  • Tel: 03705 62 72 82 (UK) or 1890 200 091 (Republic of Ireland)
  • Email: volunteering@samaritans.org
  • Samaritans, Volunteering Department, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2AF