Veteran broadcaster Charlie Bird has revealed he plans to extend his 'hand of friendship' to Samaritans for its life-saving work.
The mental health charity is looking forward to working with Charlie in the coming months to raise awareness of its service this winter and urge people to reach out if they need support.
On Friday 18th November, Charlie will be in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre from 11 am with volunteers from Dublin Samaritans to extend his hand of friendship and meet members of the public at an old-style telephone box which was designed especially for the branch.
Charlie said after the success of Climb With Charlie, he wanted to support other good causes.
“In the past I knew of a couple of people who were in a dark place and who found solace after they rang and spoke to someone in Samaritans,” said Charlie, launching his awareness campaign at the distinctive The Wishing Hand sculpture by Linda Brunker at the Department of Education.
“Given all the pressures that people are under today, I think that it is really important that there is someone there at the end of a phone who will listen to you without making a judgement, at any hour of the day or night.
“Samaritans do a really powerful job. Their volunteers extend the hand of friendship to callers every day. Samaritans are there, on freephone 116 123, to listen to you, no matter what you’re going through - loneliness, isolation, grief, illness, financial hardship, mental health issues and for someone who might be having suicidal thoughts.
"My motto is simply to extend the hand of friendship and if you need to talk, there is someone to listen.”
Dublin Samaritans is one of 21 Samaritans branches in Ireland which fall under the umbrella of Samaritans Ireland. Each branch is an independent charity and run by volunteers who support the national freephone helpline 116 123, as well as support people or deliver training in clubs, schools, prisons and communities.
Olwyn Green, a Dublin Samaritans volunteer, said: “We are so appreciative that Charlie thought of Samaritans and is giving us his time to raise awareness of the work we do.
“People are familiar with our helpline, freephone 116 123, so we had an old-style telephone box made by one of our volunteers that we use at events to raise awareness, including Bloom in June. Charlie had the idea that he would like to be at the phone box to meet people
“We are all looking forward to being at Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre on Friday, 18th November, from 11 am, to support him as he extends his hand of friendship.”
Artist Niall O’Loughlin gifted Charlie with a cartoon of Charlie and Tiger at the phone box, which was shown during his recent appearance on The Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy.
Anne Vaughan, Branch Director with Dublin Samaritans, urged anyone in need of a listening ear to call Samaritans if they need support.
“Coming into the winter months people maybe lonely or struggling to cope. Samaritans is available to listen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on freephone 116 123 or email [email protected],” she added.
“We want to thank Charlie Bird and his wife Claire for their support and are looking forward to working with them in the coming months to raise awareness of our service.”