Samaritans' caller, Damien, and volunteer, Vikki, share how a simple phone call can help change someone's story this Christmas.
Last year, our helpline answered more than a quarter of a million calls for help from December 1st to January 1st, including over 10,000 on Christmas day alone, from people struggling across the UK & Republic of Ireland. Across Scotland, our volunteers answered more than 18,000 calls for help via phone, email and letter during the Christmas period. This year, that lifeline will be even more vital.
Two people who know the importance of having someone be there to listen are Damien, who called Samaritans during a difficult time in his life and listening volunteer Vikki. Here they share how a simple phone call can help change someone’s story at Christmas.
Damien, from Kirkintilloch, picked up the phone to Samaritans when he couldn’t see a way through the difficulties he was facing. He says: “When I saw something online suggesting I call Samaritans I thought ‘what do I have to lose’?
That phone call helped me to see that these feelings would pass and to find my way through; I really believe it’s a big part of why I’m here to enjoy Christmas with my loved ones, even if that looks a little different this year
"I know that even during normal times, many people can find the festive season difficult and the worries and uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic are likely to make this Christmas harder. So, it’s even more important we do what we can to be there for one another and be open with one another if we’re finding things tough".
Vikki, a volunteer the Falkirk branch, knows what it’s like to be that listening ear. Having volunteered for 14 years, she has done many festive shifts over that time.
She says: “Being there to listen is vital all year round, but it always feels especially meaningful at Christmas when we know loneliness can really hit home for people and other services that people may rely on are closed or on reduced hours. We’re here to listen on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and every day, 24/7. The Christmas season can be difficult even under normal circumstances, but we know this year may be particularly challenging for people."
We are already hearing from callers who are worried about being separated from family over the festive season and how they’ll cope with loneliness. Others are worried about the wellbeing of loved ones or struggling with financial pressures and worried about how they’ll pay bills and afford presents.
"To anyone who is struggling this festive season, please know we’re here to talk and to listen. Pick up the phone and someone like me will be waiting, ready to listen this Christmas.”
Anyone can contact Samaritans for free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 116 123 or emailing [email protected]
An extended version of this article was originally published in the Scotsman on the 1st of December.
By donating as little as £5, you can help volunteers like Vikki be there to listen whenever someone needs us.