What Chad's vision went on to achieve
Chad Varah, Samaritans founder, believed there should be a helpline for people to call if they were feeling suicidal. In 1953 he set up Samaritans. Ten years later, in 1963, there were 41 branches of Samaritans in the UK and Ireland. Just three years later, in 1966, there were 6,537 Samaritans volunteers based in 80 branches.
In 1974 Chad founded Befrienders International (now Befrienders Worldwide), the worldwide body of Samaritans branches, to complement the, by then, 160 Branches in the UK and Ireland, with 18,022 volunteers. There has been a steady growth since that date, with volunteer numbers peaking in 1993 at 23,500. Calls to Samaritans have continued to go up every year, and the number of branches is now at 202.
Of course, much has changed since the days of St Stephen's, Walbrook. Samaritans has become a household name, and has developed along with society.
E-mail and this website are clear examples of just how much things have changed. But the basic principles have always remained the same. Samaritan volunteers are still available round the clock to offer that unique emotional support service.