They look like ordinary people - different ages, backgrounds and interests. What binds them together (photograph attached) is that each is an Exeter Mid and East Devon Samaritan volunteer and remarkably they have served a combined 81 years.
Most of the six, who were presented with long service awards at the AGM of the charity’s Exeter branch this week, serve as listeners who respond to the thousands of telephone calls, emails, text messages received by the branch each year.
But most have other roles - some are involved with training new volunteers, one handles IT for the charity’s central Exeter HQ, another liaises with medical services.
“The calibre of the volunteers we have is quite extraordinary - we’re very fortunate as a branch but we’re also always looking for new people to help” explains Helen Crossfield, director of the Exeter Mid and East Devon branch.
“We have over 40,000 contacts each year at this local branch alone. Of course most are via phone, email or text but we also have an increasing number of face-to-face contacts with people who come to our premises because they’re in distress or need someone who will listen without judging them” says Helen.
“As well as listening, volunteers can get involved with fundraising, marketing, admin, or doing outreach work in schools, colleges and at Exeter university. There’s a listening scheme with HM Prison Exeter where our volunteers select, train and support prisoners to offer support to others” she explains.
Potential volunteers can also find out more by calling 01392 496649 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.