New insights reveal people are worried about their wellbeing over the festive period.
Christmas will be a tough time for some even without a global pandemic to deal with, say Samaritans, as the charity’s latest research shows being separated from family and loved ones over the Christmas period is one of the biggest concerns facing callers.
New research with over 1,400 of the charity’s volunteers found around a quarter who took part in the survey (27%), have spoken to people who were feeling concerned about their wellbeing over Christmas and the winter period, over the past three months.
The charity’s volunteers said that the most common worries were about being separated from family and loved ones, and how they will cope with being lonely during Christmas or having to spend Christmas alone.
No one should struggle alone, and Samaritans is encouraging people to look out for anyone who may be feeling lonely or isolated as we head into the festive season.
Other common concerns to emerge in the survey include, people worrying about the wellbeing of loved ones who are already feeling lonely as a result of restrictions, and the impact of colder weather and shorter days. Volunteers also said that people were feeling concerned about their financial situation, with many questioning if they will be able to pay bills and buy presents.
Samaritans volunteers have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure their vital service is available around the clock for anyone who needs help. Since lockdown in March, volunteers have provided emotional support over a million times via phone, email and letters.
Last Christmas*, Samaritans, the only charity there for anyone struggling to cope 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, responded to over a quarter of a million calls for help** and over 10,000 calls for help came on Christmas Day alone.
Jason, 50, from Reading felt his whole world had fallen apart one Christmas. After struggling with his mum’s death, breaking up with the mother of his son and the loss of his job, it all became too much.
Jason said: “The hardship faced by people trying to cope with the pandemic reminds me how overwhelming everything became for me at Christmas, to the point that I didn’t feel or see that there was a benefit to being here. Thankfully my ex-wife noticed my struggles and convinced me to pick up the phone to Samaritans.
“Although it was one of the hardest things I have done – that phone call changed my life and put me on a new path. I had completely lost my way in life before the call. Samaritans gave me hope and helped me to find my purpose again. For me, it was the smallest thing with the greatest outcome.
“Our own self-care this Christmas and beyond is so important. Take each day as it comes, have strength to reach out for support in times of need; for me that would be the best gift anyone could give themselves.”
Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley said: “It has been an unprecedented year with the pandemic affecting so many people’s health and wellbeing. It would be a tragedy if we weren’t there for those in distress.
“We know that people struggle more at Christmas, as it’s a time when loneliness can really hit home. Regardless of what happens with Covid restrictions, we want people to know that confidential support is available 24/7, and that we are there for everyone.”
It is essential to look after our mental health, and others, by continuing to check in on anyone who may be struggling and encourage them to reach out for support whether it’s with a friend, family member or a confidential helpline like Samaritans. Our volunteers are always there to listen, and they won’t judge or tell you what to do. Call for free on 116 123, email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org.
Thousands of dedicated Samaritans volunteers will be helping people to cope over the festive period, with around 1,500 expected to make themselves available on Christmas Day alone.
The charity is asking people to send a Christmas gift to help Samaritans continue to be there for those who need emotional support. Making a donation for as little as £5 will help Samaritans answer a call for help from somebody struggling this Christmas. Watch Samaritans Christmas campaign video featuring Jason here.
For more information and interviews, please contact [email protected] or 020 8394 8300. A full press pack including images is available here:
Notes to editor
* Christmas period refers to 1 December 2019 to 1 January 2020
** Statistics source: Samaritans, 2020
- Samaritans volunteer insights related to the past three months (August to October) and was carried out in October 2020.
- A total of 1,439 volunteers responded to the survey.
- 395 volunteers (out of 1,439 participants) stated they had talked to callers concerned about Christmas or the winter period over the past 3 months (27% of survey respondents). This is based on coding of open text answers to the question: “What concerns, if any, have callers raised specifically about their wellbeing over Christmas and the winter period?”
- Among these callers, a sense of bleakness, unease and uncertainty about what the changing restrictions will mean for how they will spend Christmas was an overarching theme.
- Four main themes emerged including family, loneliness, impact of the cold weather and short days and financial worries.
- Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org.