Prince of Wales visits Wolverhampton Samaritans

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of Samaritans, paid a visit this afternoon to the charity’s Wolverhampton branch (Tuesday 25 November).

During the visit His Royal Highness met with Samaritans’ volunteers and was shown around the branch by Samantha Pittaway – Branch Director, and Marion O’Sullivan, West Midlands Regional Director.

Samantha Pittaway, who at 25 is currently Samaritans’ youngest Branch Director, said: “It has been a real pleasure to welcome His Royal Highness at Wolverhampton branch, to see some of the important work of Samaritans at a local level and to hear some first-hand experiences of being a volunteer.”

Among those present were long-serving volunteer Patricia Stratton, who has carried out a number of different roles during her incredible 32 years with Samaritans. These have included organising the recent branch renovations and helping to run the Prison Listener scheme locally. His Royal Highness was also introduced to Peter Burt, who at 88 is the oldest volunteer at the branch. Peter is a local artist and donates his paintings for sale at the branch to raise funds for Samaritans.

His Royal Highness commended each of the volunteers for their dedication and commitment, acknowledging the challenges faced in providing this vital listening service to those who are most in need.

Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive of Samaritans said: “We are delighted that our Patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, has today made a visit to our Wolverhampton branch to meet some of our volunteers. His continuing support for our work is invaluable. As a charity we rely on the remarkable dedication of our volunteers, who, for over 60 years have been providing our vital, frontline service to those who have nowhere else to turn. Everyone has moments in their life where they struggle to cope and for some this can lead to feeling hopeless and losing sight of being able to work through their problems. Talking can really help people to see a way through and Samaritans is available for them, round the clock, every single day of the year.”

Samaritans in Wolverhampton first opened back in 1966 and today operates with a total of 73 volunteers. The branch volunteers, who come from a cross section of the community, provide emotional support to callers over the phone, by email and face-to-face in the branch.

The branch has excellent links with local schools and Wolverhampton University and also works with the National Offender Management Service to provide a Listener scheme in two of the areas’ prisons, Featherstone and Brinsford.  Samaritans’ Listener scheme is a peer support programme where selected prisoners are trained to provide a listening service to other inmates within the prison.

For more information about the work of Samaritans, or to arrange an interview please contact Samaritans’ Press Office on 020 8394 8300, out-of-hours on 07943 809 162, or email press@samaritans.org

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Notes to Editor:

[Media - Not for publication or broadcast – this event was covered by the Royal Rota (Yellow) please email press@samaritans.org for information about the rota list and contact details.]

Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 08457 90 90 90 (UK) 1850 60 90 90 (ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of the nearest branch.

The charity’s vision is that fewer people die by suicide. In 2011, 6,045 people across the UK took their own lives. Last year volunteers answered more than 650,000 calls for help from people with suicidal feelings.

Samaritans volunteers give up a few hours of their time every week to help support people find their way through whatever is troubling them. Talking can help a person to see their situation in a different light and find help them to find a way forward.

Samaritans branches are involved in outreach work where individuals may not otherwise have access to the service. Examples include attending festivals and having a presence at Accident and Emergency departments.

Samaritans volunteers also work with homeless people and with prisoners. There is a partnership with Network Rail to reduce suicides on the railways, links with local schools and the provision of training to outside organisations.

Wolverhampton Samaritans:

Samaritans Wolverhampton first opened in 1966, moving to its current premises at 54 Newhampton Road West in 1984. The branch is open to face to face callers every day during shift times.

The branch currently has 73 volunteers, ranging in age between 23 and 88. The longest serving volunteer has been with Samaritans since December 1975.

As well as listening volunteers, there are three Support volunteers whose roles include; Branch Treasurer, IT and Admin support and Prison Co-ordinator.

Branch Director, Samantha Pittaway, is supported by a team of Deputy Directors who help run the branch.  These include roles covering Caller Support, Training, Recruitment and Selection, Mentoring, Rota, Leaders, On Going Training, Volunteer Support and Outreach.