At Samaritans, privacy is at the heart of what we do.
We are committed to protecting your privacy and the personal information that we hold. The purpose of this statement is to be clear and transparent about how Samaritans uses your personal information, whether you are using our service, interested in volunteering, making a donation or just browsing our website.
Worried someone will see that you've been on our site?
These are the steps you can take to remove signs that you've been on your site from your computer.
Select 'Private browsing'
Most browsers have a 'private' or 'incognito' browsing option. This means when you're on our site, you won’t leave any traces of your activity on your computer (no history, web cache or anything else) and so it’s a useful first step to take.
Chrome: Click on the 'Menu' button (it has three horizontal lines) – 'New Incognito Window'
Safari: Click on the 'File' button – 'New Private Window'
Internet Explorer: Click on 'Safety' – 'Tools' – 'In Private Browsing'
Firefox: Click on the 'Menu' button (it has three horizontal lines) – 'New Private Window'
Delete your browser 'History'
When you're not in 'private' mode, your browser will automatically keep a record (or 'History') of all the pages go on. You can remove Samaritans' pages from your history.
First, open your 'History':
Chrome: Click on the 'History' option on the menu bar.
Safari: Click on the 'History' option on the menu bar.
Internet Explorer: Press the Ctrl key and H at the same time.
Firefox: Press the Ctrl key and H at the same time.
Secondly, select all entries that say "www.samaritan.org.uk" and press delete or backspace on the keyboard. (Or select 'All in last hour' on Safari.)
Lastly, if you found us on Google or another search engine, delete your search results from your History too.
A cookie is a small file on your computer that records the sites you visit, cookies are mainly used by advertisers to track your interests and show you targeted content. You can delete all your cookies by doing the following:
Chrome: Click on 'Chrome' – 'Clear Browsing Data'
Safari: Clearing 'History' will clear cookies.
Internet Explorer: Click on: 'Tools' menu – Internet Options. On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK.
Click on Delete Files, put a tick in the box labelled Delete all offline content and click OK.
Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.
Firefox: Click on Tools – Options – Privacy – select the Clear button (next to Cache and Saved Form Information)
Worried that someone will see you’ve been on our web chat?
You can turn off notifications at any time by clicking on ‘Notification settings’ at the top of the web chat screen.
A push notification from our web chat service will only ever show the text: 'Your chat is ready', ‘Please click here to begin’ and ‘samaritans.org’ alongside a small picture of two speech bubbles. It won't ever display your messages or messages from us. An audio alert will make a generic notification sound.
Cookies and browser history
To delete cookies and browser history follow the instructions above.
Alongside turning off notifications from us on your device, you can delete the pages from the Samaritans website you’ve visited from your browser history. You can also open a 'private browsing' window, which won't show up on your browser history, for future pages you visit. Read instructions on how to delete pages from your history and open a private browser above.
To clear web chat permissions, which show you’ve been on our web chat website, from your browser, follow these steps:
Chrome - While you have the web chat open, click on the lock symbol by the address bar. Then click on ‘site settings’. On this page click ‘reset permissions’.
Safari - Click ‘Safari’. Then select ‘Notifications’ and chose webchat.samaritans.org. Click ‘Remove’.
Opera - Click ‘Opera’. The select ‘preferences’. Next click on ‘Advanced and select ‘Privacy and Security’. Scroll down and and clickon ‘Content Settings’. To clear notifications click on ‘Notifications’, select webchat.samaritans.org and then click ‘remove’.
(Learn more about our new web chat service, which, for now, is still a pilot.)
Who are Samaritans?
Samaritans offers a safe place for you to talk, any time, in whatever way is best for you.
Samaritans is made up of 201 branches in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, some of which are independent charities. The branches are coordinated and supported by Samaritans Central Charity (registered charity number in England and Wales: 219432; and in Scotland: SC040604).
Samaritans Central Charity is also registered as a company under company number 757372, and operates a wholly owned subsidiary, The Samaritans Enterprises Limited, company number 01451175.
Within this Privacy Statement ‘we’ and ‘us’ means Samaritans Central Charity, the branches that are part of the Samaritans Central Charity and the Samaritans companies. Each of these are data controllers under the data protection laws.
Samaritans Ireland is registered as a company under company number 450409 and is a separate data controller for the purposes of the data protection laws. If you are in contact with Samaritans Ireland only, please read the information contained here.
Some of the Samaritans branches are independent charities and are separate data controllers for the purposes of the data protection laws. If you are in contact with a branch only, you should refer to the branch website to read their data privacy statement.
Which laws apply to us?
Your ‘personal information’ is information that can be used to identify you. This can include your name, email address, postal address, telephone number, date of birth and credit/debit card details, as well as ‘sensitive personal information’ such as details about your ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, physical or mental health and details of criminal offences. Samaritans collects, stores and handles personal information for a variety of purposes, including to manage our volunteers, to process donations made to us, to engage with our supporters and to provide our services to the public.
The following laws apply to Samaritans, as an organisation that collects, stores and handles personal information:
- the Data Protection Act 1998
- the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679
- the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
We will handle your information in accordance with these laws.
Changes to this Privacy Statement
As the service we provide changes, we may need to alter this Privacy Statement. If you have any queries about this statement please contact the Legal & Governance team at Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2AF or email [email protected].
How we use personal information
Select one of the options below to read more about how Samaritans and its branches uses your personal information.
How we use personal information
If you use Samaritans’ service
Samaritans supports people in distress through its support service. Our service is available by telephone, email, text message, letter and face to face.
Our telephone helpline is designed so that Samaritans volunteers can’t see your phone number when you contact us. However, some information that could be used to identify you is available on our central systems and can be accessed by Samaritans Central Office staff, for example:
- If we need to investigate a call or series of calls (e.g. if you make a complaint), we can use an encrypted telephone number shown on our central system to identify the specific calls.
- If you contact [email protected], we do our best to mask your email address by replacing it with a caller ID and message ID before it reaches a volunteer. If you reply to the email we send you, your actual email address may be visible in the addressee line. This depends on how your computer is set up. If you would like to avoid this, you should review the whole of your email message (including any historic messages, usually shown below your current reply) and delete any mention of your email address before you press send.
- If you contact us by letter, the volunteer will be able to see your postal address
- Unlike the telephone helpline, your telephone number will be visible if you contact Samaritans Central Office
In general, we try to keep as little information about you as possible. Volunteers may take notes when they talk to you to assist in the conversation. These notes are shredded at the end of the call. We don’t record your phone calls to the helpline but volunteers and staff may from time to time listen in to calls for training, support, or research purposes.
We record some statistical information on each contact we receive, to report on and improve our service. This includes non-identifiable information, such as gender and how distressed the individual was at the time of contact. This information is never used to report on specific people. Where we provide emotional support in locations outside of the branches, our volunteers will take steps to ensure that any notes taken for statistical purposes are kept secure and securely disposed of once the data has been entered into our central contact log.
If we are concerned about you and want to offer you extra support, we may agree to call you back or for you to call us at an agreed time. In these cases, we will record information you’ve given us so that we know it’s you when you call again. We may need to share this information within Samaritans, because we work as a team to provide you with the best possible support and we want to ensure that whoever you speak to is up to date with your situation. This can be helpful if you find it difficult to go over previous conversations or if you are going through a particularity difficult time.
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 your contact details. Our additional support is not meant to be long term, it is a temporary form of extra support and is only put in place with your input and agreement.
Samaritans will never pass any of your information on to any other organisation, except in the following situations:
- We receive a call about acts of terrorism or bomb warnings
- We receive a court order requiring us to share information
- We are working in partnership with another organisation and you have given consent for your information to be shared
- You directly ask us to pass on information about you to someone else
- We are concerned that you are not able to make a decision for yourself (please read more about our policy on confidentiality here)
- You threaten the safety of our volunteers
- You misuse or compromise the delivery of our service, for example by making it difficult for other people to get through
Limiting or withdrawing access to our services
From time to time we have to take decisions to limit an individual’s access to our services. For example:
- If you contact us a lot in a short period of time we may need to manage your access to our service to ensure that others are able to get through to us. If this happens to you, you will get a message that explains how else you can contact us to discuss your support needs.
- If we believe you are abusing our service or are abusive towards volunteers, we may use our system to block your calls or messages from getting through. If you can’t get through by phone, you will hear a message that explains how to contact us to discuss our decision to block you from our system.
If we take the decision to limit your access to our systems, we will make every effort to inform you as to the reason why we have restricted your access. We may ask you to give us a contact number so that a member of our Caller Support Team can call you to talk about your support needs.
If you wish to discuss your use of the service or appeal a decision, please contact the Caller Support Team at Samaritans Central Office on +44 20 8394 8300, by email or write to the Caller Support Team, Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey KT17 2AF. Please be aware that if you call Samaritans Central Office, your telephone number may be visible to the Caller Support Team and may be logged for administrative purposes.
If you are abusive or threaten our volunteers, we may report you to the police and, where available, circulate your CCTV image to local branches to ensure the safety of our volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer with Samaritans
Samaritans is made up of branches across the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, some of which are independent charities. The branches are coordinated by Samaritans Central Charity.
Samaritans Central Charity works with branches to support the recruitment and management of volunteers. Samaritans Central Charity and branches need to collect, use, store and share certain information about applicants and volunteers to manage their application and involvement with the organisation. The need to use applicant and volunteer information in this way is known as a ‘legitimate interest’ of Samaritans and is the lawful basis upon which Samaritans handles personal data for these purposes.
This section sets out how your personal data will be used by Samaritans Central Charity and the branches to administer and coordinate your application and volunteering with us.
If you want to learn more about volunteering with Samaritans
If you are interested in volunteering with Samaritans, you can contact us through our website, via the telephone, post, email, or at events. You can also contact branches directly. Find your nearest branch here.
You will be asked to give us your personal details so that we can contact you in relation to your enquiry. If you have contacted Samaritans Central Charity, we will pass this information on to your local Samaritans branch (or the branch you have requested), so that they can get in touch to discuss volunteering opportunities at the branch.
Samaritans Central Charity will also use the information you have provided to assist you with any queries you might have regarding your volunteering application and to ask you about your experience of applying to volunteer with us.
Samaritans Central Charity also collects statistical information to help monitor enquiries and applications for volunteering, as well as to help us to carry out equal opportunity monitoring. As part of the application process, we may ask for information about your age, disability, gender, employment status and ethnicity (known as ‘sensitive personal information’) to help us with equal opportunities monitoring. You are not required to give us this information, but if you do so, we will use it for the purposes of managing your application and involvement with Samaritans and equal opportunities monitoring only.
If you apply to be a volunteer at a branch
Once you have decided to apply to volunteer with Samaritans, you will need to get in touch with your chosen branch. The branch will explain how to submit your application form.
The branch may need to share some of the information that you give in your application form with Samaritans Central Charity, such as the information from your referees and your criminal records disclosure.
The information you provide on your application form will be used to make a decision about whether you will be accepted on to a Samaritans training course. You may be asked for information about your age, disability, gender, employment status and ethnicity (known as ‘sensitive personal information’) to help Samaritans with equal opportunities monitoring. You are not required to give this information, but if you do, the relevant branch and Samaritans Central Charity will use it for the purposes of managing your application and involvement with Samaritans and equal opportunities monitoring only.
Samaritans will keep the personal information you provide to us during the application process 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.
We will provide a reference for volunteers upon request.
Using our website
Do we use 'Cookies'?