Writing to a Samaritan
Our volunteers have no secret formula or magic wands. We won't pretend we can solve all your problems, nor will we try to tell you what to do. We will read what you have to say and encourage you to express your innermost thoughts. Our aim is to help you consider all the options open to you and to make the right choices which will enable you to move on.
Often, the people who write have deeply buried thoughts of suicide and the Samaritan who replies to your letter will ask you to examine those thoughts in the hope that just bringing them to the surface and writing them down will enable you to recognise and deal with them. However, you don't have to be suicidal to write to us. Don't worry if you feel that your problems might seem trivial or not serious enough. If it's causing you distress, it's important to us.
Why send a letter?
For some people, writing things down is easier than having to speak to someone on the phone. This may be the case for many reasons, such as:
- it may be difficult to find the private moment necessary to make a telephone call or to send an email
- a speech or hearing defect makes using the telephone difficult
- the distress and emotions you experience whilst talking through problems makes it difficult to talk
No matter what, the simple act of writing things down can be therapeutic and to receive a response from a friendly stranger can be even better.
Writing to Samaritans is free
We don't want cost to prevent people from reaching out for our help and with this in mind Correspondence Branch offers a freepost service. Those who wish to write in complete confidence to Samaritans can use this address:
You don't need a stamp and your letter will be treated as confidential, with the exceptions here (if you aren't sure about any part of our confidentiality policy, ask us when you write). When we reply, Correspondence Branch will include a freepost, addressed envelope so that you can continue to stay in touch.
There are no rules when writing to Samaritans
Spelling, grammar, quality of handwriting are of no importance. You can express yourself freely and without embarrassment. Naturally, Samaritans need your name and address in order to reply to your letter but other than that, all you need to do is tell us about the difficulties you are going through.
What happens to the letters?
The letters are opened by a fully trained Samaritan who then posts them on to either the person you have previously written to or to one of the other specially trained Samaritans who respond to letters posted to ‘Chris’. We aim to reply within seven days.
All the volunteers in Correspondence Branch are trained Samaritans who have had experience as ‘Listening’ volunteers. They also receive special training in letter writing. One of the most important issues is confidentiality. Anything you write and what is said in reply is confidential, with the exceptions here (if you aren't sure about any part of our confidentiality policy, ask us when you write). No one will be told of anything you write - in fact, no one need ever know you have written to us. After we have responded, all letters are shredded after 3 months.