Ian Stevens - Network Rail, Ruth Sutherland - Samaritans CEO, Paul Plummer - Rail Delivery Group

A nation of listeners but no one wants to talk

Samaritans launches We Listen campaign supported by Network Rail

While most of us like to think we’re good listeners, we keep quiet about our own problems, statistics released by Samaritans today show.  Nearly two-thirds (64%) of people in the UK believe they’re good listeners, but less than a quarter (23%) feel they can talk when something’s on their mind.*

The figures come as Samaritans launches its ‘We Listen’ campaign. Supported by Network Rail and the wider rail industry, the message is that while it’s easy to hide your feelings, when someone really listens, which is what Samaritans volunteers do, you’re more likely to open up and start working through your problems.

Posters in railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales contain hidden messages where people claiming to be fine reveal that they’re not OK at all.  One says ‘I’m alright with being single I guess. It’s not ideal for the kids, but they seem to be coping’, the real message being, ‘I’m not coping’.

Another says ‘I’m going to be alright. It’s not so bad spending a lot of time alone,’ where the reality is ‘I’m so alone’.

The message from Samaritans is, We don’t just hear you, we listen’, reassuring callers that dedicated listeners are interested in the real problems they are grappling with.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland says:  “Life’s pressures can build, without you even realising.  It’s all too easy to turn away, ignore how you’re feeling, and put on a brave face.  But you don’t have to do that with Samaritans. Samaritans volunteers make time for you and really listen to you, because simply being listened to can help you put into words what’s really going on in your life and help you find a way through.

“It might be the pressures of family, relationships, work, health, finances – or anything else.  Life can be tough, and it’s a strength not a weakness to reach out for support. Talk to Samaritans for free from any phone, email us, text us or come into a branch and chat face to face. Whatever works best for you, we’ll listen and help you find a way through.”

Network Rail has been working with Samaritans to raise awareness of the charity’s emotional support services since 2010, along with Britain’s train operating companies and British Transport Police.  As well as funding advertising campaigns in stations, in the community and at big events, the partnership has seen more than 11,500 rail staff trained in listening and confidence skills, enabling them to identify people at risk and help them.  In the past year, railway staff may have prevented more than 450 people from harming themselves on the rail network.**

Ian Stevens is Network Rail’s Programme Manager: “Millions of people travel by rail and visit stations every day, so we’re well placed and proud to support Samaritans’ ‘We Listen’ campaign and help spread the message that you don’t have to go it alone with your troubles when life is tough. Through our industry programme Samaritans has trained thousands of railway staff, equipping them with the confidence and listening skills to direct anyone who may be at risk of harming themselves to people who can help, such as Samaritans.”

The awareness raising campaign will be promoted heavily online and across social media, with people invited to explore and share a short film showing the difference between hearing and listening.  Shot from the point of view of someone having a conversation with a friend going through difficult times, a series of distractions highlight that it’s not always easy to hear what really matters. The aim is to emphasise how valuable listening is when supporting people who may be struggling, and to encourage more people to contact Samaritans before their feelings overwhelm them.

You can call Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (you don’t even need credit and this number won’t show up on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.


Get on board with our #WeListen campaign by following Samaritans on Twitter @samaritans or facebook www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity.

For more information, images and interviews, including people who’ve benefited from Samaritans’ services and rail workers who’ve been trained to deal with people who may be at risk, please contact press@samaritans.org or call 020 8394 8396 or download a press pack at www.samaritans.org/NRpress




Notes to editors:

  • Samaritans responds to more than 5.3 million calls for help every year, offering emotional support by phone, email, text and face to face in its 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.  For more information please see www.samaritans.org
  • Network Rail runs, looks after and improves Britain’s railways and stations. In partnership with train operators it helps people to take more than 1.6 billion journeys by rail every year, double the number twenty years ago in 1996, as well as move millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8 million lorry journeys. It’s investing £38 billion in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations. For more information, please see:  www.networkrail.co.uk
  • Samaritans’ ‘We Listen’ campaign, supported by Network Rail and the wider rail industry, is appearing on poster sites and digital screens around the railway environment from February 2016 and is expected to be in place for at least two years.  The aim of the campaign is to prompt behavioural change and encourage those most at risk to seek help whenever they are struggling to cope and to increase the likelihood of them calling the Samaritans’ free helpline number, 116 123.  It is also designed to raise awareness and increase understanding of Samaritans with the general public so that people see the act of calling the helpline as a positive, empowering first step in seeking help and taking control of their lives.  For more information about the campaign please go to: www.samaritans.org/welisten
  • *Samaritans’ #TalkToUs 2015 online survey was carried out between 27 May & 2 June 2015. A nationally representative sample of 1600 adults was surveyed.
  • ** Source:  Network Rail figures from 1 April 2015 to date, recording interventions that were made by Network Rail, British Transport Police and train operating company staff.
  • In 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) 6,122 suicides were registered in the UK, which equates to 10.8 per 100,000 people.  Men are more at risk: the rate for men is 16.8 per 100,000 and 5.2 per 100,000 for women.  Deprivation is also a major risk factor, with people living in poorer areas of the UK ten times more likely to die by suicide than those in more affluent areas. Approximately 5% of suicides annually in the UK occur in the railway environment.