Samaritans to offer armed forces and their families specialist support and training

Samaritans will be offering armed forces staff and their families tailor-made confidential support services round the clock, wherever they are in the world, Chancellor George Osborne announced in today’s Budget.

The charity will receive £3.5m over 3 years to develop a programme that helps military personnel, veterans and their loved ones identify when someone may need emotional support, and access Samaritans’ services more easily, whether they are in the UK or stationed overseas.

The money is coming from what’s known as the LIBOR fund, following the rate-fixing issue, where fines paid by the banks are passed on to the voluntary sector.

There will be 3 elements to the programme:

  • Building on Samaritans’ existing digital technology to offer service men and women at home and abroad access to confidential support by text, email and instant messaging
  • Online training for military personnel and their families in listening skills, giving them the confidence and expertise to encourage each other to open up when life is tough
  • Face to face training to create listening volunteers within the forces, available night and day for colleagues who need to talk about difficult thoughts or feelings

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK, and of men and women aged 20-34. For men who are 24 or younger and have left the armed forces, the risk of them taking their own lives is between 2 and 3 three times higher than men the same age who haven’t served in the military.*

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland has welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement: 

We rely on men and women in the armed forces to put their lives on the line to keep us safe. With this funding, Samaritans can share its expertise with the military so that those serving or leaving the forces and their families are better equipped to deal with their unique circumstances, as well as the day to day struggles that we all face.

“Samaritans has the scale, reach and knowledge to help people deal with life’s challenges. We will be giving service men and women vital skills in listening and supporting others that they can use in their careers and later in their civilian lives.”

Samaritans has a track record in tailoring its services to the needs of those who may be more at risk of taking their own lives. For example, it has developed a listening scheme in prisons, which is now in its 25th year, where inmates are trained in listening skills and offer emotional support to prisoners finding it difficult to cope.

Since 2010 the charity has been working with Network Rail and the wider rail industry’s 200,000 staff to develop online and face to face training in the skills needed to identify anyone who may be vulnerable, keep them safe, and direct them to sources of support such as Samaritans.

For further information, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or


Notes to editors:

  • You don’t have to be suicidal to call us. Whatever you’re going through, call us free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email, or visit to find details of your nearest branch.
  • It’s the public’s kind donations and more than 21,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope.
  • *Figures taken from research carried out by Kapur et al, 2009, University of Manchester.
  • The government has committed money raised from banking fines following the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal to go towards charitable projects and good causes, with millions of pounds distributed every year over five years from 2013. In its first three years, the fund supported 96 charities and good causes supporting the armed forces community in a variety of ways.