Samaritans CEO announcement

Catherine Johnstone, CEO of Samaritans said: “I would like to confirm that after more than six years as CEO of Samaritans, I have indicated my intention to leave the organisation during 2015. I have made this decision jointly with the Board of Trustees, with very careful consideration, as the organisation is one of which I have been immensely proud to be CEO.

“During my tenure, I have been privileged to help lead the organisation’s tireless work to reduce suicide and provide the best possible service for all of our callers, both now and for the future. Whilst it will be a big change for me to move on from an organisation I am incredibly passionate about, I feel strongly that now is the right time for Samaritans to seek a new CEO to lead the organisation forward to deliver its ambitious new strategy for 2015 – 2021.

“I will be exploring a number of new opportunities open to me, but importantly, my focus remains on providing continuity of leadership for Samaritans. I will therefore be working closely with the Board of Trustees to ensure a smooth transition to the new CEO when appointed.”

Jenni McCartney, Chair of Samaritans said: “I would like to firstly put on record the Board’s huge thanks to Catherine for everything she has done over the last six years as CEO of our unique organisation. Catherine has helped lead the implementation of Samaritans’ successful six year strategy ‘Taking a lead to reduce suicide’ (2009- 2015), and been instrumental in helping the Board shape the new strategy for 2015-2021. 

“It is testament to her commitment to Samaritans that this change will be managed in a way which will ensure stability for the organisation and the best possible transition to a new CEO.

“The Board of Trustees has now begun the process of recruitment of the next CEO to lead the organisation forward to build on the fantastic legacy Catherine has established during her tenure.

The advert for the role of CEO is now live on the Odgers Berndston website.

Further background:

Key achievements for Samaritans during Catherine’s time as CEO include:

  • Significant improvements and investments in Samaritans’ infrastructure and service delivery have enabled Samaritans volunteers to answer over 5 million calls for help every year.
  • The public profile of the organisation and the issues surrounding suicide have grown significantly.  In its mission to reduce the number of people who die by suicide, Samaritans has worked closely with Government and taken a leading role in influencing suicide prevention policy and practice in all nations, to ensure understanding and reducing suicide remains a priority.  The organisation has tackled the issue head on, with widespread national awareness raising campaigns to reduce stigma and encourage vulnerable people to seek help when they need it. 
  • Samaritans has developed and led a range of projects to increase awareness and provide support for vulnerable people in specific settings.  Highlights include the high profile partnership with Network Rail to reduce suicide on the railways, the DEAL (Developing Emotional Awareness and Listening) project working with schools and the Listener scheme and ongoing work in prisons.
  • Samaritans has seen its income double in the last six years, with over £12million raised in the financial year ending March 2014.

For more information about the work of Samaritans, please contact Kristy MacLeod in the Samaritans Press Office on 020 8394 8300 or email

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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.