Annual Report 2016 - 17

Sunday 29th October 2017
A summary of our Annual Report

Vision, Mission and Values

Samaritans’ Vision is that fewer people die by suicide.  We work to achieve this Vision by making it our Mission to alleviate emotional distress and reduce the incidence of suicidal feelings and suicidal behaviour.


We do this by:

  • Being available 24 hours a day to provide emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of emotional distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide.
  • Reaching out to high-risk groups and communities to reduce the risk of suicide. 
  • Working in partnership with other organisations, agencies and experts to achieve our Vision.
  • Influencing public policy and raising awareness of the challenges of reducing suicide.


We are committed to the following Values:

  • Listening, because exploring feelings alleviates distress and helps people to reach a better understanding of their situation and the options open to them.
  • Confidentiality, because if people feel safe, they are more likely to be open about their feelings.
  • People making their own decisions wherever possible, because we believe that people have the right to find their own solution and telling people what to do takes responsibility away from them.
  • Being non-judgemental, because we want people to be able to talk to us without fear of prejudice or rejection.
  • Human contact, because giving people time, undivided attention and empathy meets a fundamental emotional need and reduces distress and despair.



Chair’s Report

I can hardly believe another year has flown by, and yet again we have seen many essential improvements to our Centre. The most noticeable of these is the brand new front door which not only looks great but is also more secure, along with the new CCTV system which is an important security tool. Another not so apparent improvement, after years of negotiation, persuasion and unmitigated persistence, is the removal of the perilously dangerous chimney (hooray!).


Many thanks to our support Volunteers who have, as always, worked tirelessly to raise funds to keep our Branch financially viable. We need to raise around £22,000 a year just to cover the running costs for the Branch and this can prove to be an onerous task even at the best of times. Our new fund raisers are also doing a wonderful job.


Our outreach programmes are running successfully with the GP Referral Service becoming an effective and widely accepted part of the mental health support network and we have also resumed our school's outreach programme that is raising awareness among the younger generation.


As always we have had to embrace new technologies and ways of working. The Safe Guarding Policy has caused some concern for our Volunteers but given time and appropriate training I'm sure we will all take it in our stride, we are nothing if not resilient.


Our Volunteers continue to work assiduously, despite challenging circumstances, to provide support and offer empathy to all our callers. We are all committed (some would say we certainly should be) to retaining our unique identity as an affiliated branch of Samaritans and are working unfalteringly to achieve this.  Many of our Volunteers give very generously of their time, undertaking numerous other roles as well as being active listeners. Without the unstinting support of these volunteers, the Centre would struggle to run effectively and I would like to thank each and every Volunteer for their dedication and hard work in making our Branch so special. Unequivocally it is the Volunteers that make our Branch the best! Thank you all!                                                     

Nina 272


Choose your partner wisely!

He’s a so-called “persistent offender” and soon to be released after 16 hours in a Barnstaple police cell.  He lives alone. Yet again, he’s got himself into trouble.   For the next 48 hours, he is at risk.

She has spent 3 weeks in a psychiatric ward living alongside other patients and with psychiatric nurses. She is about to be discharged.  The institution has protected her and made her feel safe. For the next 48 hours, she is high risk and vulnerable.

You lost your partner two weeks ago and everything is overpowering. Your doctor considers the Crisis Team or Cruse. There will be a delay.  You are high risk, vulnerable, alone and needing to talk.

 “Samaritans work to minimise the risk of suicide.”  Our mission statement sounds great, doesn’t it, but what does it mean and how can we best work to reduce suicide in our area of North Devon and North Cornwall?  

We know that half of our callers are men, yet in several age brackets and particularly 18 to 24 and middle age, men are four times more likely to take their own lives than women.  Men don’t ring as much as they could.    How do we support local people who won’t pick up the phone, whether male or female?  At their most vulnerable, they may be past the stage where they are strong enough to ring anyone, let alone Samaritans.

 We like to think that Samaritans are at the sharp end. We may be, but not always. If we are effectively to reduce the risk of suicide, we must reach the people who are most vulnerable.  To do that, we need partners who are closer to the sharp end than we are.  The ideal partner manages locations where high numbers of vulnerable people attend.  They know who is vulnerable because they see them face-to-face, sometimes often.  Not only do they identify who are the most vulnerable, they identify the moment when they are likely to feel most alone.

 116 123 brings us callers from across the country. We want to support everyone, but as we are human, it is particularly pleasing to support vulnerable people who are in our local community, living amongst us, North Devon and North Cornwall.  

 With our referral process, local doctors, local psychiatric nurses, local nurses working with local police custody sergeants, local statutory and voluntary support organisations can refer local people to us, their local Samaritans.  They are at the sharp end.  They know who needs help. Pro-active partner to pro-active Samaritan to re-active Caller. Local with local for local. We call “the caller” at the time they most need us, they pick up the phone.

 Our partners are professionals with the Police and the NHS, highly trained and highly respected.  They know too that Barnstaple Samaritans are professionals, but professionals who work unpaid. Their patients are safe in our hands.  They know that. They choose their partner wisely!                                      

David 141



Director’s Report

Listening… what’s so special about that?  -  Anyone can do it.

But can they?

How many times have you tried to tell your story and know your friend is not hearing you but is just waiting her opportunity to say what happened to her? Or she’s distracted, must pick up the kids, put the dinner on or some such more important thing.

At some times in our lives, we all need hearing and we know how valuable it is when we are really, truly heard.

How much more so then, as with many of our callers, there’s no one at all to listen properly to them.

You give them your undivided attention when they need it and for as long as they need it. You have no axe to grind, no judgements to make, no advice to give and no egos to preserve.

Anyone can’t do it. But you can. And you do it very well indeed.

Thank you.                                             

Jane 321 


50 Years of Listening

I for one am proud to be part of our wonderful Barnstaple Branch and, though not a ‘listening’ volunteer I like to think that I play a part in keeping our Centre open and available to anyone who needs our support.   To reach a milestone of 50 years is an achievement we can be justly proud of. Thanks to Colin 410, Clive 400, Anna 207 and Ruth 710 for organising the Art Competition involving local schools and colleges, to mark this very special occasion. The artwork will be on display for all to see in Barnstaple Library 22nd- 29th July.   

Chris 707