Samaritans volunteers say they were overwhelmed by the support from Brighton & Hove Albion fans at last weekend’s game against Liverpool, which doubled as a memorial to their colleague Jill Howell.
Jill, who was a dedicated Samaritans volunteer and North Stand season ticket holder, died in sad circumstances in 2017. In her memory, the Club teamed up with her local branch of Samaritans to help spread the word about the charity’s listening services with visuals on screens around the stadium. Volunteers were on hand to talk to fans and players supported too, with a specially made video promoting Samaritans’ SHUSH listening tips.
Volunteer Alison Pratt, who runs the Brighton and Hove branch of Samaritans, was interviewed live at half-time, alongside branch trustee and Lisa Rodrigues. Both felt that Jill would have been both amazed and very glad to see her beloved Albion and Samaritans working together in this way to support each other when life gets tough.
Lisa Rodrigues said: “We were overwhelmed by the response from supporters. They very much got the message, not just that we were remembering Jill and talking about Samaritans, but the importance of being there for one another and using the listening tips.
“We could not have done it without the help of the Albion. This is just the beginning of our relationship with the Club, we will be there on Brew Monday (21st January) having tea with the staff and we are planning events with the team’s charity, Albion in the Community, going forward.”
Alison Pratt said: “We made contact with and spoke to many different people about Samaritans, and we could not have done that without the Club. People were really receptive, and I am hoping we have started a relationship that we can continue. I like to think that Jill would be really happy about that.”
Brighton and Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber said: “It was a great atmosphere at the game on Saturday, and the fans really responded to the Samaritans volunteers and hearing their tips on how to be a better listener. It was a great tribute to Jill Howell too. We look forward to more opportunities to work with Samaritans in the future.”
You can learn more about the background to the day from Samaritans volunteer and trustee Lisa Rodrigues here.