Dunfermline Samaritans were established in the November with a small loan from the Samaritans central charity and a £5 donation from the Dunfermline Press. They held their first official executive meeting on the 16th December in Abbot House where they operated from until a suitable building was secured. The Edinburgh Samaritans and an advisory board of local business people also assisted the original volunteers in opening the first branch.
The first branch was opened officially in 103 High Street, Dunfermline, accessed through Free School Close. Dunfermline Samaritans received their first calls on the 31st January in this building.
The first AGM took place in the branch with 14 members in attendance. Due to the number of volunteers and availability being limited when the branch was closed Edinburgh branch would cover the calls unlike now where the free phone number means a call can be answered by any branch in the UK. The Dunfermline Samaritans have always been involved in the community and took part in collecting and distributing furniture to callers in need.
The branch unfortunately had to move out of the High Street address due to the premises being sold. Fortunately Mr Ian Terris of Stephen Bakers generously offered
16 Guildhall Street rent free. Thanks to this kindness Dunfermline Samaritans were able to continue and with a new telephone service in place were able to operate a 24 hour service. By this time there were now 50 members much like there is today.
Dunfermline branch helped to set up the Kirkcaldy Samaritans branch which saw membership rise to 88 volunteers.
An AGM was held in Abbeyview Community Centre where it was agreed that a caller could spend a night in the branch provided a Samaritan accompanied them. This again shows the dedication Dunfermline Samaritans have had to supporting their callers. This is no longer in practice due to various regulations and the branch usage however Dunfermline Samaritans are proud to have been able to offer this service at that time.
The branch had to move premises and with the help of Edinburgh and Glasgow Samaritans a new building was purchased at 30 Maygate. The branch officially opened on the 6th February with the Provost of Dunfermline and other representatives who had supported the branch in attendance.
Due to the miners’ strike the branch saw an 18% increase in calls.
The number of volunteers reached its peak at 94 and the branch were taking overspill calls from the Edinburgh branch to assist them. At this point if callers ran out of money from payphones the branch had the numbers of the local telephone boxes and would call them back to ensure they could receive the support regardless of their financial situation.
Dunfermline Samaritans celebrated its 25th anniversary and held a Civic Reception at the City Chambers in celebration.
The branch sold its previous building and bought the current premises at 22 Townhill Road where it has been based since.
The branch began answering emails from the Samaritans address firstname.lastname@example.org to further support callers who were unable to or did not want to via a telephone call.
Volunteers began responding to text messages, again ensuring Samaritans utilise modern technology and can support callers through further channels. The branch won The Organisation of the Year at Fife Voluntary Action Awards. A milestone was reached with the 50th anniversary and celebratory visit was held with the Provost and a wonderful dinner with the volunteers.
Today, Dunfermline and Samaritans are still entirely run by volunteers and funded by donations. Back in 1964 the branch was one of just five in Scotland whilst today there are 19 branches in Scotland supported by over 1,000 volunteers. Without the support of volunteers and donations the branch would never have reached its 50th year. If you would like to become a volunteer or donate please contact email@example.com or call in at 22 Townhill Road, Dunfermline for one of the following information evenings:
Saturday 10 June at 10:30
Monday 7th August at 19:00
Saturday 30th September at 10:30
For 24/7 support call Freephone 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org