Frequently Asked Questions.
We hope that this information will answer some of the questions you may have about the work of the Samaritans.
What's involved in being a Samaritan?
Samaritans are ordinary people from all walks of life who provide a 24-hour listening service for people who are going through emotional difficulties and who may be feeling suicidal. Our callers may contact us by telephone, email, SMS text, letter, or visit us in person.
We have to LISTEN-attentively, unhurriedly and at length. You will be able not to advise, criticize or judge. You have to share the pain, often knowing there is nothing you can DO, since you can't provide jobs, accommodation, money, friends, or instant happiness.
Do I have enough time?
Samaritans agree to do an average of one duty per week. The daytime and evening duties are 3-4 hours long, whilst the unsocial hours duties are 5 hours (these occur once every 4 weeks). Some do more, but we are all expected to honour this undertaking - accidents and holidays excluded!
Will my family get involved?
On the contrary, apart from helping you to be available, they will need to understand that they can't share this part of your life. Our overarching principal of CONFIDENTIALITY means that you won't be able to discuss with them details of what you do as a volunteer. But you will need their support and encouragement to do it. You won't take calls at home - the only contact you will have with callers takes place at the centre where you will have the support of other volunteers.
What qualifications do I need?
Only an ability to listen. Position and job do not matter. Your beliefs are your affair and must not be imposed on callers. Being the right sort of person us really all that matters. We need ordinary, friendly people aged 18 and over who are not afraid of distress, grief, or embarrassment.
Would I be suitable?
This information, Open Information Evening, Interview, and Initial Training Course are all designed to help you, and us, assess this with consideration and care.
What will the interview be like?
As friendly and informal as possible. You'll have a chance to ask questions, and the 2 interviewers will want to discuss with you some of the things on your application form. You will be asked about your background and life experience, and your motivation for applying to Samaritans at this time. This is so that we can work out whether you would be happy as a Samaritan. You may be asked some personal and searching questions. Not everyone is suited to be a Samaritan and the interview is designed to assess this. We don't accept everyone who applies - but neither are we looking for super humans!
I've had trouble myself - will you still accept me?
Your own experience of distress may have increased your capacity for empathy and compassion - but it may have also left you too vulnerable to take on the burden of other people's troubles. It depends on when and how you went through your own troubled times and what it did to you. Asking to be a Samaritan can sometimes be a way of trying to escape the burden of your own troubles by dealing with someone else's instead. We know that some applicants need help themselves but it can be so very hard to ask for this.
Why do you turn people down?
The interviewers and selection team may feel that you are too close to troubles of your own or that Samaritans work might touch on a sore spot and harm you. It may be that the constraints that we impose on the ways in which you may be able to help could be frustrating for you. Or it might be that your talents are more of a practical type or your nature more forceful and active than we seek in Samaritans listening volunteers.
Is there a place for people who don't feel they want direct contact with callers?
Yes! Anything which takes away the administrative burden from volunteers would be of benefit to the branch.
We need help with administration, publicity, fund raising and our shops. Support volunteers are full members of the branch and are valued as much as listening volunteers!
What's the training like?
If you're accepted at selection/interview, you will attend an initial training course which is spread over 10 weeks. This training helps to develop your skills in grasping how it feels to be in another person's situation, and you will learn a lot about yourself. It isn't easy, but in this way you face challenges of being a Samaritan in a safe place before you're faced with the reality. The skills you learn as a Samaritan volunteer will stay with you for life.
I still want to be a Samaritan, what do I do?
Think carefully about whether you really want to do the work, whether you can meet the time commitment, and whether you will get the support of your immediate family. Then contact us by one of the methods below. We'll send you an invitation to our next available open evening, together with an information pack. This will help you decide whether to become a Samaritans volunteer.
If you have any further queries or questions in the meantime, then do contact us and we'll arrange for a member of our Recruitment and Selection Team to get in touch with you.
If you would like to apply to become a Samaritans Volunteer, or would like more information, then please get in touch via the following:
The national website provides a lot of information about volunteering, and the work of Samaritans. There is also a section where you can apply to become a volunteer at your nearest branch.
Click the link below to go directly to the branch form:
Email our dedicated Recruitment address at: