Samaritans Appoints New CEO To Lead Ambitious Six Year Strategy

Samaritans has appointed a new Chief Executive, Ruth Sutherland, who is due to take the helm on Monday 3rd August 2015. Ruth is currently CEO of Relate, a post she has held for three years having previously held senior leadership roles at Scope, Alzheimer’s Society and Rethink Mental Illness.

Ruth succeeds Catherine Johnstone, who announced her intention to leave the organisation in January, having been in post for over six years, during which time she helped lead the implementation of Samaritans’ successful six year strategy from 2009 - 2015 ‘Taking a lead to reduce suicide’.

Ruth said: "I am passionate about the cause, vision and values of Samaritans and consider it an honour and a privilege to be joining the organisation at a time when the vital work of Samaritans is needed more than ever.  My work to date has involved many of the key groups and causes of distress and crisis that Samaritans responds to on a daily basis. I am really looking forward to getting to know the organisation and - most importantly - all the people who make Samaritans what it is today, so that I can play my part in the important work we have to do going forward to make the real difference needed.”

Ruth will be taking on the role of CEO at Samaritans as it begins work to deliver its ambitious new strategy for 2015 – 2021, launched today. Entitled ‘Working Together to Reduce Suicide’, the emphasis will be on improving Samaritans’ service, increasing its influence and reaching more people in need of support, including those most at risk and vulnerable groups.

Jenni McCartney, Chair of Samaritans said: “I am delighted to welcome Ruth to Samaritans at such an important time in the history of the organisation. The Board and I are extremely pleased with the appointment as Ruth is ideally placed to provide the leadership and passion we need to take the organisation forward in the coming months and years. Her invaluable experience in both the public and voluntary sector, including her work with volunteers, will bring both the experience and stability the organisation needs to provide the best possible service to everyone who needs us and ultimately deliver on our vital mission to reduce suicide.”

Ruth has a background in the public and voluntary sectors in public health, mental health and in voluntary sector leadership spanning more than 30 years. Ruth has a sustained and developed interest in working for social justice and addressing inequalities in health. During her time at Relate, Ruth has set Relate on course to help more people in more ways that work in today’s tough operating environment and to be fit for the future. Key successes have included significantly improving the visibility and influence of Relate, developing Relate’s service offer and growing income.

Ruth originally qualified as a Registered General Nurse but has spent the majority of her career in mental health and public health roles. She is married with three adult children.

Samaritans has more than 21,000 volunteers who belong to 201 branches throughout the UK and Ireland. They are there round the clock, every day of the year, and in 2013 they took more than 5 million calls for help. As well as the helpline, people can contact Samaritans via email and text and face to face at branches.

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For photographs, or more information about the work of Samaritans, please contact Sue Royal in the press team at Samaritans on 020 8394 8348 or email s.royal@samaritans.org

Notes to editors:

  • 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) 116 123 (ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of the nearest branch.