Myths about volunteering with Coventry Samaritans: it’s not all about the telephone

Volunteer with Samaritans to help people in unexpected places
Saturday 2nd July 2016
Ask most people what they know about Samaritans and they'll tell you it's a helpline for people thinking about taking their own life. Yes, people who are feeling suicidal or are in the process of taking their life do call us. And whilst we respect their right to decide, we are at the end of the telephone because we know that if they can talk to someone at this most difficult moment we can offer hope that, maybe, there is another way for them to stop feeling such anguish.


But that’s not all we do.


I’ve spoken to plenty of people who start the conversation saying “I’m not suicidal, can I still talk to you?”  The answer’s yes.  At some point in our lives, most of us feel low, sad or in despair.  We are here for these times too.  Just saying it out loud to another person who’s trying hard to understand and see things from your perspective can make a big difference.



Perhaps less well known is that Samaritans reaches out to people in distress and despair in plenty of other ways.


Not everyone wants to, or can, talk.  Plenty find that incredibly hard, preferring to get in touch via text or email. Those who email may appreciate the space they get to order their thoughts as the ‘conversation’ goes on, while those who text  may want to offload a sort of ‘stream of conscious’.  The main point is we want to help people talk to us in whichever way they prefer.

You will also find us on the platform of railway stations across the country.  As I said earlier, contact with another person in a moment of despair can be all that’s required to save a life.  Someone thinking about stepping out in front of a train will find our details at the end of the platform.  We’ve trained railway staff to recognise the signs and with warmth and care, they aim to bring people to their office and help them to call us.



Reaching out to those who need us the most.


People in crisis need as much support as they can get so in Coventry we’ve teamed up with the local mental health trust to help them provide a little extra care to people in extreme distress.  We call the people referred to us at a pre-agreed time every day for a week.  It can make a crucial difference at a difficult time.

We visit schools, colleges and all sorts of other organisations talking about the signs of suicide and the way we can all reach out to someone who feels really low. And we’re regulars at the Earlsdon and Godiva Festivals.  Nationally we even have a Festival Branch, ready and willing to listen to people at the main festivals, including Glastonbury


Working in partnership.


We’ve recently set up a new initiative in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care.  Called Facing the Future, it’s designed to help people bereaved by suicide, who often feel particularly alone and isolated.

Finally, we also work in the local prisons. People in prison are six times more likely to kill themselves that people outside. That’s why, as a national organisation, we’ve been working with prison services for over 20 years. Here in Coventry we train and support Listeners, who are also prisoners, in HMP Onley and HMP Rye Hill.

So yes, anyone can call us at any time of the day or night, every single day of the year if they are in distress or despair. But we reach out to people in a wealth of other ways, always with the aim of reducing the number of people who die by suicide.


Interested in becoming one of the people there for others in all these different ways too? We'd love you to join us at our next Information Session. It's free to attend and a great chance to find out more about what we do from our volunteers.