Samaritans volunt-heroes give more than 5 million hours a year to save lives

This Volunteers’ Week (1-12 June 2016) Samaritans has revealed that its volunteers give 5.5 million hours of their time every year to save lives.

Every 6 seconds someone contacts Samaritans. Across the UK and Republic of Ireland, more than 20,000 volunteers respond to calls, emails and texts, as well as support people in workplaces, schools, communities and prisons. They also work with the NHS, police and emergency services, as well as fundraising for and running its 201 local bases, known as branches, some of which include shops.  The charity estimates that paid employees would be earning the equivalent of £72m a year.*

But for JK Fouzder, a long-standing volunteer based in Birmingham, being a Samaritan is quite simply invaluable.

“I remember once, after a long week at work and a really busy time at home, I arrived for my Samaritans shift feeling I’d really be better off in bed!  But 30 minutes later I was talking to a man who was so overwhelmed with the death of his mum and the end of his relationship, that he felt he’d run out of options.  Knowing that you’ve helped someone to make sense of difficult thoughts, that you’ve really listened to what they’re going through and that they’ve felt understood, is the most uplifting, encouraging, life-changing thing. I love doing what I do.”

Samaritans Chair Jenni McCartney has been a volunteer for the charity for more than 30 years. “Life can be tough for anyone, and everyone needs support at some point in their lives.  As Samaritans volunteers, we don’t judge, we’re here for absolutely anyone, and we want people to talk to us before they feel overwhelmed.”

Samaritans volunteers based at its 201 branches work in a variety of roles. Listening volunteers respond to calls, emails, letters and texts, as well as talking to people who call into a branch for support in person. Weekly shifts are usually 3 or 4 hours long, with most volunteers doing a number of night shifts across the year.  Training is really comprehensive and you’re always working in a team, with opportunities to volunteer at a range of events and activities too.

Jenni McCartney added: “We’re always keen to hear from people who want to be volunteers and those happy to help with fundraising, outreach work and the day to day running of our branches.  Volunteering with Samaritans is a win-win. You get to offer your experience and knowledge and in return develop a whole new set of skills. From my own experience, I can honestly say that you will get just as much out of it as you put in. If you can this Volunteers’ Week, please make a donation, or think about giving us your time. Your money or your time could save a life.”

More than 21m people volunteer in the UK at least once a year. Volunteering contributes an estimated £23.9bn to the UK economy, equivalent to more than 1.5% of GDP.**

Anyone can contact Samaritans, you don’t have to be suicidal. 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 jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are interested in volunteering for Samaritans, please go to  www.samaritans.org/volunteering. You can also follow Samaritans on Twitter @samaritans or facebook www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity.

For further information, photos,  interviews with Samaritans Chair Jenni McCartney, and a range of other volunteers, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.

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