Big Lottery backing for Samaritans life-saving service

A life-saving project aiming to reduce the number of people who die by suicide across the UK is benefitting from the Big Lottery Fund’s support, as announced today.

Samaritans is set to receive £1.4 million from the Big Lottery Fund to pilot a free-to-caller telephone service in ten deprived communities across the UK, targeting hard to reach groups, in particular middle aged men who tend to delay seeking help.

The ten communities will be chosen based on their level of socio-economic deprivation and suicide rate relative to the rest of the UK. In particular, the pilot will aim to reach middle-aged men from low socio-economic backgrounds who are at high risk of suicide and tend to delay seeking help.

A major piece of research ‘Men and Suicide: Why it’s a social issue’ published by us in 2012 looks at why this group of men are at a higher risk of suicide.A report produced by Young Foundation for the Big Lottery Fund in 2012 entitled ‘Invisible Men’ also noted that men were rarely considered to be a “target group” and all too often they were not immediately thought of when developing services and projects.

The pilot will allow us to see the impact a free-to-caller service has on the pattern, number and nature of calls in specific area. This will allow us to make sure that we have the resources, knowledge and people in placein order to roll out this service nationally.

Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive of Samaritans, said: “We are so pleased to be working with the Big Lottery Fund. This grant will help us continue developing a sustainable free-to-caller service, which will take away the cost of calling our helpline for those who need us most.

Our ‘Men and Suicide: Why it’s a social issue’ research illustrated that those from the lowest social economic groups, living in the most deprived areas are ten times more likely to die by suicide than those from more affluent areas. The cost of calling can often be a barrier for those people who are struggling financially or are disadvantaged.

“Although Samaritans’ does not charge for its services, a person having to pay for the cost of a call may prevent them from contacting us when they need us most. By developing a sustainable free-to-caller service, we are taking the positive steps in increasing the access to our helpline.”

Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund added: “The report produced by Young Foundation for the Big Lottery Fund highlighted the fact that there was a clear need to better understand why these men who need help are not seeking it, and how the voluntary sector can help them overcome the barriers standing in their way of getting support. The project receiving funding today will address precisely the issue of access to sometimes life-saving services that Samaritans provide across the country.”   

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