Samaritans celebrates 60 years of listening

Events have been taking place up and down the country today, Friday, 1 November, to mark Samaritans’ 60th birthday. The biggest of them all was in the City of London, where TV star Jasmin Walia, (The Only Way is Essex) joined Felicity Varah Harding, daughter of Samaritans’ founder, Prebendary Dr Chad Varah CH CBE, to mark the occasion.

Two traditional red telephone boxes next to The Royal Exchange, where Samaritans first started, turned green to mark this poignant moment in the charity’s history. Tomorrow, Saturday, 2 November, from 06:30-22:30hrs the BT Tower will display a message to wish Samaritans’ a happy 60th birthday.

The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, was joined by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, and other celebrities to send their best wishes for the charity’s birthday.

The very first call to the helpline was answered by Chad Varah in the church of St Stephen Walbrook on 2 November 1953. Since then 127,000 volunteers have answered 115 million calls for help.  The organisation now has 201 branches with 20,980 volunteers across the UK and ROI, who answer more than five million calls each year.

Talking about the difficult experiences she has been through, Jasmin said:
“I’ve been through my fair share of ups and downs and it is comforting to know that Samaritans is there, round the clock, if things get on top of me. It is amazing to think of the millions of calls they have answered over the last 60 years. People’s problems will never disappear, there will always be a need for Samaritans.”

Felicity Varah Harding, daughter of Samaritans founder, Chad Varah, said:
"My father began Samaritans, with just one telephone. It’s wonderful to see how the charity has grown and flourished over the 60 years since he took that first call in 1953. The challenge now is to look to the future. As the way people choose to communicate changes over time, we need to continue to evolve, combining technology with compassion, to reach people who still so desperately need our help."

Samaritans is Jones Lang LaSalle’s charity partner, and staff from the professional services and investment management company supported for the 60th birthday celebrations.
To mark Samaritans’ 60th birthday, events are taking place across the UK and ROI.  People can get involved by simply texting ‘SUPPORT’ to 70123* to make a £3 donation.


1. Jasmin Walia with Felicity Varah Harding.



2. Jasmin Walia. 3. Group shot; TOWIE star Jasmin Walia, Felicity Varah Harding, 60 volunteers from the charity’s Central London branch.



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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 116 123, email, or visit to find details of the nearest branch.
Terms and conditions of making a donation to 70123

Texts cost £3, plus one message at your standard network rate. Samaritans will receive a minimum of 99% of your donation. We may contact you in the future. If you’d prefer not to hear from us, text NOCALL SAM to 70060. If you wish to discuss this mobile payment, call 0844 241 2263. UK registered charity number 219432.