Samaritans in Scotland poised to take calls as new survey reveals extent of festive loneliness and isolation


Mon 14 December 2015

Samaritans has released new figures showing the extent of loneliness and isolation people feel over the festive period, with nearly a quarter (23.6%) believing problems feel  worse at Christmas and 1 in 6 (17.3%) saying it’s the loneliest time of year.*

The survey, of all ages, also reveals that 1 in 15 (6.8%) have often spent Christmas alone, and 1 in 25 (3.8%) of those questioned have said they are with friends and family, but really spent it alone.

Samaritans responded to nearly 200,000* calls for help over the festive period last year. There has been an increase in demand for their services year round, with Samaritans UK-wide responding to more than 5.3 million calls for help last year, with 240,000 contacts in Scotland alone.

James Jopling, Executive Director of Samaritans in Scotland, says, “For many the holiday period can be a thoroughly enjoyable time but, sadly, as our research shows, for a startling number of people this is not always the case.  This time of year can bring up painful memories, or worsen difficult feelings often related to family or relationship issues, financial or health worries, to name just a few.  The pressure to be having a good time or comparing your life with someone else’s can be too much. Even with friends and family around you, that sense of being alone with difficult thoughts or feelings, can make it seem as if you have no one to turn to.” 

“The important thing to remember is that no one needs to feel alone this Christmas. Samaritans volunteers are there to listen round the clock, every day of the year.  We don’t judge and we don’t share what we’re told, we’re simply there to listen, provide emotional support and help people find a way through whatever’s getting to them.”

Christine from Lanarkshire is one of Samaritans’ 1,000 volunteers in Scotland, and is volunteering over the festive period. She said: “At this time of year, people can end up feeling lonely, and that they have nobody to turn to. Past difficulties such as bereavement or relationship breakdown can be brought into even sharper focus when it seems like everyone around you is having fun and being jolly. It’s important that everyone has someone they can talk to when they are feeling isolated. I’d urge anyone who is feeling alone to phone Samaritans for support.”

Samaritans relies almost entirely on donations to run its 20 Scottish branches and train more than 1,000 dedicated volunteers, without whom it could not operate its life-saving services for those who need them most. If you would like to support Samaritans by making a donation, you can find out how you can help at:


To find out more about Samaritans’ Christmas campaign, interviews with Samaritans Scotland Executive Director James Jopling, volunteers working over the holiday period, and people who have benefited from Samaritans’ support when they have felt isolated and alone, please contact Samaritans’ Scotland on 0131 556 7058, or email or

Photos are available to accompany this release (see sample attached).

Notes to editors


  • *Samaritans’ Christmas 2015 online survey was carried out between 27 May & 2 June 2015. A nationally representative sample of 1600 adults was surveyed


  • ** Samaritans' telephone platform 18 December 2014 to 1 January 2015


  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place to talk for anyone who is struggling to cope, whoever you are and whatever life has done to you. Please call 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), or email, or visit to find details of your nearest branch.


  • Nearly 700 people died by suicide last year in Scotland.