Any questions?

Have a question about Digital Futures? Read our FAQs here: just click on one of the questions and you'll be taken to the answer.

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Digital Futures FAQs

Click on one of the questions and you'll be scrolled down to the answer.

What have you been asking people to do?

We have offered a number of ways for people to contribute to this process, including through blog posts, Twitter chats and ongoing promotion and engagement through our social media channels. You can also email us. We also commissioned an independent research agency to undertake some focus groups for us.

Why should I take part?

Samaritans is an organisation based on listening.  That doesn’t only refer to our service, but also reflects the approach we take when improving the way we deliver support to those who need it most.  We know that people use the online space when they are feeling vulnerable and we are committed to doing more to provide help in this environment, but we can’t do this alone.  We want to encourage a debate about the big issues and what people think should be done about them. There are a wide range of views and we want to hear them all. One of Samaritans core principles is that people are stronger together – the more people we get involved the better our work will be.

Hearing people’s views and experiences will be vital to ensuring that what we develop is fit for purpose and meets the needs of people who use or may use our service in the future. 

How can I take part?

The focus groups have been completed and online survey has now closed. However, Samaritans has a Digital Futures blog that we have used to pose some key questions for feedback, which you can still comment on and people have also been writing their own blogs, talking about them on social media and emailing us comments. You can also watch our Digital Futures videos, which discuss some of the key issues, and you can also tweet us using the hashtag #digitalfutures.

Can I take part anonymously?

Yes, people can choose whether they wish to provide their name or not.

Can I take part if I'm under 18?

No, for this particular project we are only looking to gather views from people aged 18 and over. If you are under 18 and are looking for support, please contact ChildLine.

How much time do I need to commit?

You can commit as little or as much time as you like. If you have something to say on this subject then we are very keen to listen to you. You can email us here.

Do I need to travel?

The vast majority of our fact finding has been taking place online or over the phone.  Some of the London-based research project involved face-to-face focus groups.

How do I get involved with the focus group?

Our focus group research has now closed. You can read updates about Digital Futures here.

Is there any compensation being offered for participating and/or are expenses being reimbursed?

We aren’t able to offer any compensation for people’s time but will be paying reasonable public travel expenses for those invited to face to face meetings.

Who will you be speaking to?

We are hoping to speak to people from the following broad categories:

  • People with personal experience of being online when struggling to cope and people who care for or are worried about others online
  • People who are online in a professional capacity
  • Samaritans Volunteers

How many people are you speaking to?

We are keen to consult very broadly on this subject, so as to get a wide range of viewpoints and ideas on how to tackle suicide reduction in the online environment.

Is Samaritans working with any other charities or private companies as part of this process?

Yes, we have been working with an external research agency to conduct a series of focus groups, as well as inviting a number of external agencies specialising in privacy and data protection, technology, social media and online communications to contribute their feedback during this process.

What will be covered in the discussions?

We have been talking about what people see as being the main opportunities and threats to suicide reduction online, how people can get support and what people think Samaritans should be doing in this environment. We know this is a very broad subject but we have deliberately kept the discussion as open as possible because we want to listen to what people think.

Will my information be shared with any third parties?

Most of the feedback we have been looking for has been collected via publicly available online tools, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and blogs. We have been working with a third party research agency who conducted a series of small focus groups on behalf of Samaritans. Once collated, an anonymised summary of the feedback received will be written up and published on our website. This will inform Samaritans’ future work in the online space.

What is the duration of the project?

The fact finding element of the project took place between April and July. The data is currently being collated and written up into a report that is expected to go to Samaritans Board of Trustees in the Autumn.

What will happen after the project is completed?

We will produce an initial findings report which we will ask people for feedback on. The final report will go to our Board of Trustees and will ultimately be published on our website. This aims to inform Samaritans digital development work going forward.

What is the timeline for next steps after you’ve reviewed all of the information?

Following the Samaritans Board of Trustees meeting in September we will start to prioritise and scope out future project areas. We envisage developing our digital work over the course of our next strategy (2015-2021).

What information or research from these discussions will be made publicly available?

We have been seeking feedback from a range of key stakeholders on the opportunities and threats posed by the online environment. This has been gathered through a range of channels, both online (e.g. via Twitter chats) and offline (e.g. face-to-face meetings etc.). The insight gleaned will be used to steer Samaritans future work in the online space, to enable us to provide the best possible support for people who may be vulnerable. The findings have been collated and reviewed by the Digital Futures team and written up into a final report which we have published on Samaritans website.

What happens if someone becomes distressed as a result of taking part in this discussion?

People’s emotional wellbeing is something we take very seriously at Samaritans.  Whenever we undertake research with people who have used our services in the past, or may be vulnerable, we always have a process in place whereby they are offered a call from a Samaritans volunteer after they have taken part. We also ensure with research that we are assessing someone's vulnerability before, during and after their involvement. Where this is not possible i.e. for a Twitter chat and/or general feedback/comments, we will be regularly signposting people to Samaritans and reminding them that we are here to offer support. 

Has Samaritans received any funding from external agencies for this project?

This initial fact finding phase is being funded by the Claire Squires Memorial Fund which is a fund Samaritans holds for use on innovative development work.

Is this research project compliant with Data Protection standards?


What’s this project’s research ethics policy?

Samaritans research ethics policy can be found here.

Who is the project supposed to represent?

The project represents the views of a number of different stakeholder groups including people who have personal experience of being online when struggling to cope or people who care for or are worried about others. We have also been speaking to a range of people who are experts on subjects such as: data protection, privacy, technology, online communication and service delivery.

How do you know that your methods are representative of your target group/s?

We have used a number of different methods to try and engage with as wide an audience as possible. We have also been approaching this in an iterative way and we be reviewing the methodology as we go along.

What do you mean by ‘online environment’?

We mean the internet and the places people exist online. This can include social media, email, web forums and blogs. It also includes websites and information sources such as news sites.

Is Samaritans currently developing any methods of delivering its service digitally?

We have a number of ideas that we are currently looking at, one of which includes an assessment of whether we may be able to offer Samaritans emotional support service via instant messaging.  One of the key elements of this current fact finding exercise is to seek feedback on these ideas, as well as invite thoughts and suggestions about broader opportunities to increase support in the online space.  Once this exercise is complete, we will use the feedback to shape any future projects in this area.