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Samaritans Ireland volunteers answered more than half a million calls across the island of Ireland in 2019, according to their 2019 Impact Report.
The Impact Report gives an insight into the service Samaritans Ireland volunteers provide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Every 49 seconds, someone contacts Samaritans in Ireland.
- Samaritans Ireland volunteers received 583,277 phone calls in 2019 – 431,871 in the Republic of Ireland, and 151,406 in Northern Ireland.
- On average Samaritans volunteers spent 15 minutes on the phone with each caller.
- Nearly 4 out of every 10 calls is in relation to mental health/illness.
- There were also 2,416 face-to-face contacts, and 19,989 emails to Samaritans Ireland.
Executive Director of Samaritans Ireland, Niall Mulligan said: “With more than half a million calls for help last year, by phone, e-mail, and face-to-face, the work of Samaritans Ireland has never been more needed. We deliver our service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, through a network of 2,300 amazing volunteers within 22 branches across the island of Ireland.”
Samaritans is a lifeline for those who have nowhere else to turn. People contact Samaritans for many reasons including feeling lonely or isolated, breakdown of a relationship, work pressure, mental illness, bereavement, and thoughts of suicide. Samaritans volunteers also reach people in prisons, schools, workplaces, hospitals, festivals, and train stations. Of equal importance is their work to reduce stigma, raise awareness, and break down barriers to seeking help.
Niall reiterated, “I’d like to thank everyone who has made a donation to Samaritans and especially thank our volunteers in every branch across Ireland. Together, we’ve brought about positive changes that take us closer to our vision that fewer lives are lost to suicide in Ireland. Our presence, and our work has made a real difference to people’s lives. It is the time and dedication of our volunteers which ensures that calls and emails are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Other key highlights for the year included:
- Samaritans Festival volunteers celebrated 21 years of supporting thousands of Festival goers ranging from Belfast Pride to the Ploughing Championships.
- In 2019, Samaritans celebrated five years of freephone 116 123 in the Republic of Ireland. Since the freephone service was launched in 2014, 2.9 million calls were answered by volunteers, equating to 376,500 listening hours on the phone.
- Samaritans was also delighted to announce that six major telecom providers – BT Ireland, eir, Sky Ireland, Three Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone Ireland – all extended their partnership and agreed to support the helpline until 2024. The six telecom providers are members of IBEC’s Telecommunications Industry Ireland (TII)
- In 2019 Samaritans Ireland also celebrated five years of being the mental health partner of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ireland’s largest sporting body, and attended major events to raise awareness of what we do.
COVID-19 has been a challenge for Samaritans Ireland this year, but the charity’s volunteers have ensured that a service was provided to those who needed it throughout the pandemic and lockdown.
Samaritans Regional Director for the Republic of Ireland Rory Fitzgerald said: “COVID-19 has magnified some of the issues that Samaritans volunteers encounter such as anxiousness and mental health, loneliness and isolation, and family and relationship issues. In the midst of this crisis, it is our volunteers who are doing everything they can to be there for people who need us. We experienced a drop in volunteer numbers due to self-isolation, shielding and cocooning but we were able to manage this by some volunteers doubling up on their number of shifts per week”.
Samaritans Regional Director for Northern Ireland Alan Heron said: “Four months ago when the pandemic broke we weren’t sure what we were going to be facing but all of our volunteers rallied together to make sure that our 116 123 free helpline was being staffed to provide emotional support as we always have done. It was, and still is, a huge effort and I’d like to thank all of our volunteers across Ireland who stepped up to the plate during this very difficult time and who continue to provide support.”
Our Impact Report can be accessed here: