History of Worthing Samaritans

Over 40 years of Service to the Community

1969-1978

1969: Worthing and District Samaritans opens in April 1969 in rooms in Rivoli Buildings in Chapel Road, leased from Worthing Borough Council. Local advertisements for volunteers brought in a good response and following training lectures, the recruits were in action. In our first year, 175 people called Worthing Samaritans. Our President was Lavinia Duchess of Norfolk.

1975: An appeal is launched to raise a building fund of £15,000, to be used to purchase and equip a permanent centre for Samaritans in Worthing. The appeal was led by Dr Ivor Balfour, Chairman, and Mrs J B Spargo, Director at the time. There were 117 volunteers, who were handling around 3,000 calls and 1,000 face to face visits annually. In addition befriending calls and visits were made.

1976: Planning Approval by the Council was granted by a majority of one vote, and in October 1976, the new centre in Lennox Road was declared open.

HRH Duchess of Kent, Samaritans’ National Patron, visits our branch.

1979-2000

1979: We celebrate our 10th Anniversary. In that year, we took over 4,000 calls and met over 1,000 visitors at the centre.

1982: Calls to the branch topped 10,000 for the first time. It was thought that recession and high unemployment might be partially responsible for the increase.

1988: We are receiving over 12,000 calls a year. To cope with the increasing number, and to provide for our visitors, we extend our branch into the adjoining house in Lennox Road. Worthing’s Mayor and local MP Terrence Higgins attended the official opening ceremony.

1994: We celebrate our 25th Anniversary. We receive over 14,000 calls.

1995: Worthing Samaritans are recognised by the Mayor in Worthing’s New Year Honours for our “24 hour, 365 day a year service to some of the most vulnerable members of the community, and for handling no fewer than a quarter of a million calls”

2000-2010

The branch undergoes a programme of modernisation and innovation to continue to meet the demands of our callers, and to offer a more comfortable working environment.

2006: We start to support callers from the UK and abroad by email.

Tim Loughton MP visits the branch. He thanks a number of our volunteers who have given so much support to Worthing Samaritans over so many years.

2008: We receive 27,494 telephone calls, see 571 callers face to face at the centre, and send 425 emails.

We begin supporting the Samaritans Listener’s Scheme within HMP Ford.

2009: We start to support callers via SMS text messaging.

We celebrate our 40th Anniversary with a reception at The Dome attended by a number of local dignitaries, and many past and present volunteers.

2010: Working with staff at Chatsmore High School in Worthing we presented Emotional Awareness sessions to approximately 350 senior pupils at the school, with the result that some of the pupils formed their own support group.

We presented a module on dealing with distressed callers to staff and volunteers from AgeUK. The session raised awareness of the service we can provide to an organisation who have direct contact with vulnerable members of our society.