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 of Portsmouth and East Hampshire uses your personal information, whether you are using our service, interested in volunteering or making a donation.
Who are we?
Samaritans offers a safe place for you to talk, any time, in whatever way is best for you.
Samaritans has more than 200 branches and locations in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, some of which are independent charities. Samaritans of Portsmouth and East Hampshire is an independent charity, registered with charity number 1173720.
We are a separate data controller for the purposes of the data protection laws, and we are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
All Samaritans branches are coordinated and supported by Samaritans Central Charity (registered charity number in England and Wales: 219432). You can read Samaritans Central Charity’s privacy statement here.
Within this Privacy Statement ‘we’ and ‘us’ means Samaritans of Portsmouth and East Hampshire and/or Samaritans Central Charity, depending on the context.
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 managing our volunteers, processing donations made to us, engaging with our supporters and providing 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 Data Protection Officer at 296 London Road, North End, Portsmouth, PO2 9JN or email [email protected]
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 the Samaritans 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 may from time to time listen in to calls for training or support 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 refer you to our Samaritans Central Office Caller Support Team, who will arrange a time to call you back or for you to call back 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 this 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 and we call an ambulance for you
- 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 Samaritans Central Office 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, email [email protected] 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 Central Charity coordinates all branches across the Samaritans network and works with us to support the recruitment and management of volunteers. Our branch and Samaritans Central Office 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 we, and Samaritans Central Charity, handles personal data for these purposes.
This section sets out how your personal data will be used by us and Samaritans Central Charity 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 of Portsmouth and East Hampshire, you can contact us by emailing [email protected] If you have contacted Samaritans Central Charity, they will pass us your information so that we can get in touch to discuss volunteering opportunities.
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 Samaritans.
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 Samaritans with equal opportunities monitoring. You are not required to give us this information, but if you do so, we and Samaritans Central Charity 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
Once you have decided to apply to volunteer with us, you will need to submit an application form. We 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, we 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 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.
If you donate to Samaritans
When you donate money to Samaritans of Portsmouth and East Hamshire, we need to collect and use certain information about you in order to process your donation. This could include your name, email address, postal address, telephone or mobile number, bank details, taxpayer status (to understand if we can claim Gift Aid), date of birth and history of previous donations.
If you have made a Gift Aid declaration, we will need to disclose the information you have provided as part of our declaration to HMRC for the purpose of reclaiming Gift Aid.
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
Samaritans of Portsmouth and East Hampshire operates a CCTV system, so you may be recorded when you visit the branch. CCTV is installed for security, to protect both you and Samaritans staff and volunteers. CCTV footage will only be viewed when necessary (for example to detect or prevent a crime) and is only stored on a temporary basis, other than where it has been flagged for review.]
Samaritans of Portsmouth and East Hampshire uses various technical and organisational measures to keep your data safe. Electronic data and databases are stored on secure computer systems and we control who has access to information, using both physical and electronic means. Our volunteers receive data protection training and are provided with guidance that they are required to follow when handling personal information.
Although we do our best to keep your information safe, the transmission of information over the internet is never completely secure, so please bear this in mind when you share information with us via our website.
How long we keep your personal information for
We only keep your personal information for as long as required, depending on what it was collected for, and in accordance with legal requirements and tax and accounting rules.
If you have told us that you don’t want to be contacted by Samaritans, we will keep your details on a ‘suppression’ list to help ensure that we do not continue to contact you.
The data protection laws give you certain rights over your personal information and how we use it. These include:
- the right of access to a copy of the information that we hold about you;
- the right to ask us to correct inaccurate information that we hold about you;
- the right, in certain circumstances, to object to specific uses of your data; and
- the right, in certain circumstances, to request the information that we hold about you to be deleted.
If you wish to exercise any of these rights, please:
- Put your request in writing and email it to [email protected] or send it for the attention of the Director, Samaritans of Portsmouth and East Hampshire, 296 London Road, Portsmouth, PO2 9JN.
- Provide proof of identity including your name and postal address. If you are requesting information relating to your use of the Samaritans helpline, we will ask you for information about your contacts with Samaritans and to provide a copy of the telephone bill for the number you use to make calls to Samaritans.
Help us to respond to you as quickly as possible by being specific about which information you would like to receive a copy of or that you would like us to amend/delete. Please note:
- We will only send a response to a subject access request to you by registered mail at a postal address.
- If we are unable to verify your identity, for example if you contact the service anonymously or use a different name to do so, it may not be possible to provide you with the information requested.
- Samaritans of Portsmouth and East Hampshire is not a ‘public authority’ as defined under the Freedom of Information Act and we will therefore not respond to requests for information made under this Act.
Keeping your information up to date
If your personal details have changed, let us know at:
Portsmouth and East Hampshire Samaritans, 296 London Road, Portsmouth, PO2 9JN.
Or email us at [email protected]
If you want to complain
Samaritans aims to provide support to the highest possible standard at all times. To help achieve this, we encourage anyone who is not completely happy with the service they have received to let us know immediately, by contacting us using the details set out above or Samaritans Central Office Quality Team on +44(0)20 8394 8300, or you can use the Complaints questionnaire here.
All complaints will be investigated fully. It is important that you give as much information as possible to enable us to investigate your complaint. Your information will not be passed on to anyone outside of Samaritans but in most cases we will need to involve the Director of our branch and the Samaritans Central Office Quality Team. With your prior consent, our Branch Director will contact you directly to try to resolve your complaint.
It is our aim to resolve a complaint within 14 days of receiving it. In some cases, this isn’t possible but we will do our best to resolve it as soon as we can.
If you have any questions or wish to add information concerning your complaint, please contact a member of our Samaritans Central Office Quality Team on +44(0)20 8394 8300 or email [email protected] Please be aware that if you call our central office number, your telephone number will be visible to the Quality Team and may be logged for administrative purposes.
You can read the full Complaints Procedure here.
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