Samaritans Ireland Receiving More Out of Hours Calls
Launch of 2013 impact report of Samaritans Ireland
Samaritans Ireland received more calls from midnight to 6am than at any other time during the day over the past year. That’s according to the organisation’s 2012-2013 Impact Report, which was launched today.
According to the report, 37 per cent of calls to Samaritans’ helpline in the past year took place from midnight to 6am. Midnight to 1am on Friday and Saturday nights were the busiest times of the week. Out of hours calls to Samaritans were up by 9 per cent on 2012, and accounted for 68 per cent of all calls to the service.
Almost 10,000 people had face to face contact with Samaritans in 2013, which is a 14 per cent increase on last year. While the number of calls received by Samaritans fell by 7 per cent on last year the number of contacts through other mediums increased by 18 per cent.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Catherine Brogan, Executive Director of Samaritans Ireland, said: “A number of dynamics have resulted in changes to the type and timing of contacts to Samaritans in 2013. For starters, we are noticing that night-time periods are increasingly busy with more calls coming through, and these calls are lasting longer.
“This – in our experience – is down to the fact that there are now more day-time services and helplines available and as part of our partnership work, many of these divert into Samaritans’ service after hours. It highlights the vital need to have a resilient, reliable and available support service round the clock, particularly when other front line services are closed. It’s clear that increasingly, Samaritans is acting as a safety net for all of Ireland’s emotional support services.
Catherine Brogan said: “Our vision has always been the same, but in order to remain relevant, the way we listen has changed. We’re seeing a marked increase in the number of people who are contacting us by other mediums.
"A whole generation of people are now coming through that don’t instinctively pick up the phone. They prefer to use email or text as a mode of communication. Samaritans is responding to this by ensuring that our volunteers are trained to support people through this mode of contact.
“We’re also making efforts to make ourselves more visible and let people know that they can drop in to any of our 12 branches around the country. These efforts are significantly bolstering our face-to-face contacts.”
Samaritans said that the decrease in the number of telephone callers was the result of a combination of factors. According to Catherine Brogan: “To start with, calls are climbing down from an all-time-high of just over 400,000 in 2010/11 when the impacts of austerity were really begin felt. Some of the decrease in calls could be down to the fact that some people are feeling more hopeful about the future.
“However, we are also acutely aware – from the nature of calls to our service – that lots of people are still hurting very much. There has been a marked shift away from landline usage to mobiles, and this introduced an additional cost factor to people considering a call to Samaritans. With the launch of our free-to-caller number – 116 123 – next year, this barrier will be removed.”
The issues of most concern to callers in 2013 related to family and relationship problems; depression and mental health issues; loneliness and stress / anxiety. These mirrored the most common issues for callers last year. “With many of these issues, having the opportunity to talk them through with a trained listener offers huge relief. Where Samaritans feels a person could benefit from a greater intervention, we sign-post them to alternative services so that they can access the support they need.”
Regional Director for Ireland, Pio Fenton paid tribute to Samaritans volunteers: Samaritans Ireland is the longest-serving organisation in the area of emotional support and suicide prevention. It is volunteer-led, with 2,000 people volunteering around the country.
“Volunteers are the beating heart of Samaritans, delivering the core support service, running all branches, raising vital funds, and raising awareness of the work we do. Each volunteer spends 15 hours on average each month as a listener and undergoes a rigorous programme of initial and ongoing training. Our volunteers are ordinary people who provide a safe space to talk and we will be looking to expand our volunteer base over the coming year.”
Minister Kathleen Lynch
Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health, also spoke at today’s event.
“Samaritans offers a 24-hour service, 365 days a year,” she said. “The fact that most of the calls are made to the service at night reflect the importance of the 24 hour support they offer. People contact Samaritans because of the enormous value they find in having a ‘safe space’ and someone to listen and support.
“I want to acknowledge the tremendous work being delivered by volunteers. As we approach the Christmas holidays, I know Samaritans’ volunteers are scheduling round-the-clock shifts to make sure they are available to those who need emotional support. That hundreds of people throughout the country give so freely of their time to such an important cause is truly admirable,” she said.
“Ireland faces many challenges in relation to mental health, and I am committed to working with the relevant voluntary and statutory partners to address these. Samaritans – and other organisations in this sector – are making a significant contribution by supporting people experiencing emotional distress.”
The impact report launched by Samaritans today covers the period from the beginning of November 2012 to the end of October 2013.
Samaritans’ helpline number in Ireland is 1850 60 90 90. Further information about the organisation’s work is available at www.samaritans.ie.
Catherine Heaney / Ciara Murphy, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-2309835 / 087-9626231
Notes to Editors:
Download a copy of Samaritans Ireland’s 2012-2013 Impact Report, A Samaritan helped me through tough times
Key findings from Samaritans’ 2013 impact report include the following:
- 381,128 calls, 13,081 emails, 9,853 SMS text messages and 7,911 face-to-face contacts were received. This is a total of 411,973 contacts to Samaritans Ireland over the past 12 months.
- On average, calls were four per cent longer than last year, at 14 minutes. The duration of night time calls have increased six per cent to 16 minutes. Callers supported by Samaritans’ helpline benefited from 56,827 hours of listening time by the service’s volunteers.
- The hours from midnight to 6am were the busiest for Samaritans’ helpline, with 37 per cent of all calls received during those times.
- Samaritans received the highest number of calls on Tuesday, 18th December, when 820 calls were answered. A high number of calls were also answered on Saturday, 11th May (819) and Saturday, 17th November (817).
- More people than ever contacted Samaritans using methods other than the phone including 7,911 people received face-to-face support from Samaritans over the past year, representing an increase of 14 per cent on the previous 12 months; 13,081 contacted by email, representing an increase of 12 per cent and 9,853 contacted via SMS text message which represents an increase of 32 per cent.
About Samaritans Ireland:
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.