Hilary Benn MP supports Leeds Samaritans in 50th anniversary year

Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central, visited volunteers at the Leeds branch of Samaritans on Friday 2 December as part of its 50th anniversary year celebrations.

The MP last visited the branch in December 1999, following its re-opening after a major refurbishment of the Clarendon Road premises, and this week he saw for himself how Samaritans is moving forward in response to the changing needs of callers, and further demands on its services.

Samaritans calculates that around 3000 volunteers in all have been trained up to respond to around 1.4 million calls for help since the branch was set up in November 1966.

During a meeting with volunteers, Hilary Benn said: “I want to thank all the listening volunteers who have helped so many people over the past 50 years. It is always inspirational to hear about the work Samaritans do, day in and day out, for all of us. And they always need new volunteers so, if you are interested, just get in touch”.

The MP heard about the outreach work done by Samaritans, locally and nationally, and also the support the branch has given for more than 22 years to HMP Leeds via the ‘Listener Scheme’, where prisoners are trained in listening skills so that they can offer emotional support to other inmates. Volunteers also talked to Hilary Benn about volunteer training and the need to fundraise for Samaritans’ lifesaving services in an ever competitive climate.

Leeds Samaritan volunteer Bob Howe said: “Fifty years is a big milestone for us and gives us an opportunity to raise the profile of what Samaritans is all about – we are simply there for everyone. Every call to Samaritans is important; each one is an individual who is reaching out at a time when they most need to. We want to continue to be there for anyone at any point in their life.”

To find out more about Samaritans in Leeds or to talk to a local volunteer about its services please call Bob Howe on 07715 161271 or email press@samaritans.org.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

  • Anyone can contact Samaritans any time for free from any phone on 116 123. This number if FREE to call and won’t show up on your phone bill. You can also email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.