21st December 2020 - The longest night of the year
Landmarks across Northern Ireland and Ireland lit up in green to mark the Longest Night, to show people Samaritans are here for them during the long dark nights.
Newry City hall and Downpatrick Leisure Centre are among those that turned green on Monday, December 21st - the winter solstice – to support Samaritan’s Christmas campaign.
Samaritan volunteers answered 12,000 calls in Northern Ireland in December 2019 and this year, dozens of volunteers in the Newry & Dundalk branch gave up their time over the holiday season to be there again.
Our director, Eileen O’Reilly said: “2020 has been a difficult year for so many, with the pandemic affecting people’s health but also their mental wellbeing. The Longest Night of the year is the 21st December and we want to take this opportunity to remind the local community that in their own darkest moments, we are there for them.
“We know that for many people, Christmas is often a more difficult time, as it’s then that loneliness can really hit home. We want people to know that we are available 24/7 for everyone on freephone 116 123 or email [email protected]
“We also want to thank Newry & Mourne District Council for supporting us on the Longest Night and helping to get the message out that we’re there for everyone during the long dark winter nights.”
Among the volunteers on duty this Christmas Day was Nicholas, who has been a volunteer in Newry for three years.
“I always find it really special to volunteer on Christmas Day,” said Nicholas. “I think this year will be particularly rewarding as there are a lot of people who need support after everything they have gone through this year.’
“Knowing that you are the only person somebody might speak to on Christmas Day does make it all worthwhile. “
Across the entire Samaritans organization, last December saw over a quarter of a million calls for help and over 10,000 on Christmas Day alone.