National treasure Dame Julie Walters joins faces from TV, comedy, and artists to encourage people to have a cuppa and a chat with someone they care about
National treasure Dame Julie Walters joins faces from TV and comedy, and talented artists across the UK to encourage people to have a cuppa and a chat with someone they care about for Samaritans Brew Monday.
Today marks Blue Monday, supposedly the most difficult day of the year, but the leading suicide prevention charity says feeling low can happen on any day of the year. In a bid to uplift the nation as pandemic uncertainties continue, Samaritans is encouraging people to get their mugs out and lend an ear to loved ones.
Although winter is thought to be one of the harder seasons with dark days and frosty nights, Samaritans volunteers hear similar concerns all year round from those that contact the charity. The main concerns include mental health and illness (46%), family (34%) and loneliness (28%)*.
Julie Walters, Keith Lemon, comedian James Acaster and EastEnders actor Stevie Basaula feature in a sketch ripping apart Blue Monday and instead invite people to connect with someone over a cuppa and a chat, any day of the week.
Samaritans Ambassador Dame Julie Walters thinks people can really make a difference to someone’s day just by asking if they are OK. She said: “People go through a range of emotions throughout the year so the idea of feeling blue on one day is a load of rubbish. I’ve had my fair share of blue days and have found solace in speaking to loved ones over a cuppa.
“It is a simple action that can go a long way, particularly now when so many people continue to feel isolated and lonely. It doesn’t have to be Monday, or a cuppa, connecting with someone at any time during the year shows them you are there and ready to listen.”
Talented artists who have experience of mental health struggles have also lent their paintbrushes and pencils by creating uplifting illustrations that share a message of connection with others over a cup of something and a catch up.
Artwork from Britain’s Got Talent contestant and food artist Nathan Wyburn, former Samaritans volunteer, illustrator and author James Norbury, and contemporary wellbeing artist Emelie Hryhoruk, who has called Samaritans for support in the past, will be shown on digital screens across Network Rail stations to inspire passengers from today, 17 January.
James Norbury has recently published his first illustrated book Big Panda & Tiny Dragon to share some of the ideas that helped him through difficult times. He said: “Having struggled with intrusive thoughts for years, I’ve felt the pain and sadness that many callers experience. Talking can help you feel less alone and bring the problems sitting at the back of your head in the shadowy darkness, into the light. Things can often feel much more tangible, rather than a confusing awful mess. Talking about how you feel is a great tonic.”
Hundreds of Samaritans volunteers will be out at their local train stations across the UK throughout January, supporting key workers and those who are travelling, providing tea bags and tips on how to be a better listener.
Larger station events will be held at London Waterloo today (17 January) before moving to Liverpool Lime Street**. Volunteers there will be joined by artist Nathan Wyburn who will recreate his inspiring Brew Monday art piece live in station using coffee and biscuits. Branches all over the UK will also be hosting virtual Learn to Listen events supporting their residents to be better listeners so they can support family and friends.
*From December 2020 – November 2021, 46% of contacts that reached out to Samaritans for emotional support mentioned mental health and illness, 34% mentioned family and 28% mentioned loneliness as a concern.
** Station events held are within current government guidelines with support from Network Rail, the wider rail industry and Samaritans volunteers, including larger events at the below locations:
- London Waterloo – Monday 17 January
- Liverpool Lime Street – Friday 21 January
Notes to editors
- Find out more about Brew Monday here
- 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.
- Every day, Samaritans volunteers respond to around 10,000 calls for help.
- Samaritans is a charity and it’s the public’s kind donations and more than 20,000 volunteers that mean we are always there for anyone struggling to cope. Find out how you can support us or volunteer with us.
- You can follow Samaritans on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Samaritans has worked in partnership with the rail industry and the British Transport Police to reduce suicides on the railway for over 10 years.
- This includes training rail staff to look out for people who might need help and start a conversation, offering their support and getting them to safety. To date, over 24,000 rail staff and BTP officers have been trained in suicide prevention.
- All station events are within current Government guidelines and subject to last minute changes.
- When reporting on suicide, please bear in mind Samaritans’ Media Guidelines
- For further advice, contact the Media Advisory team on 07483 028725/07850 312224 or email: [email protected]