What we do
Southampton Samaritans have been operating in the heart of Southampton for over 40 years. Based in a central location we offer confidential non-judgemental emotional support in more than 35,000 calls a year from people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.
We provide a 24/7 service for callers on the telephone, personal callers and via email or text. We offer callers the space to explore their feelings, including feelings of self-harm and suicide. We are here for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disability or ethnic background.
We believe that being listened to in confidence, without fear of being judged, can be a huge relief and is often the first step in finding a way to cope. We keep an open mind and offer callers the opportunity to explore their feelings of self-harm or suicide. Through active listening we give time and space, not advice.
We have a team of about 120 volunteers helping us to provide the service. Our volunteers are from all sorts of backgrounds and have a wide range of life experience. 25% are under 40 and around 40% are male.
Our volunteers don’t offer advice, because what works for one person might not work for everyone. But we believe that given the time and space to work through problems or difficulties in confidence, everyone can find an inner strength that lets them find their own way forward.
Providing confidential, emotional support costs us just over £40,000 each year. We receive no allotted funding directly, therefore we raise all our own funds through a number of fundraising activities, in addition to renting out the front of our building to a local education establishment. We hold a number of Tin Collections around the City and the volunteers organise various other activities such as Quiz Nights, Open Houses and Car Boot Sales. All the activities also allow us the opportunity to inform the public more about the service we offer.
Outreach and Publicity
Our Outreach and Publicity volunteers work hard every year to promote the service we offer to as wide an audience as possible. This year we have been working in some local schools and colleges, linking up with the local student Nightline help line, as well as joining up with the national initiative with Network Rail to reduce the 200 suicides on the railways by 20% by 2015. Southampton Central Station has been one of the stations targeted in the campaign.
Recruitment and Selection
We need new volunteers to continue to help us provide our service and, as such, we hold 6 information evenings for potential new volunteers every year. This is a 3 hour introduction to the work we do, so that people can understand more fully what it takes to be a volunteer and if it’s something they would like to do.
For those who are interested we then hold further selection evenings, where the information gathering is two way, followed by interviews for those who wish to go on to join our team.
Once new volunteers have been selected, we run 3 new training courses each year. Each course consists of 6, 3 hour sessions and 2 whole day events over 2 months. The training team then ensure each new volunteer is moved into mentoring with an experienced volunteer so that they can become a fully-fledged member of the team. We ensure that all new volunteers have all the skills they need to offer confidential, emotional support confidently.
We take the emotional care of our volunteers seriously and have a small team of experienced volunteers who ensure all volunteers are fully supported in their work. We also support the volunteers in the other work they undertake in the branch. A large number of volunteers contribute to the running of the branch, either as part of the Branch Committee or in the activities described above and without them we would not be able to continue to operate.