Swansea Samaritans volunteer William Jenkins has received a British Empire Medal for his involvement with the charity going back more than 40 years.
“I was thrilled to get the award, I never expected it,” he said. “It took me by surprise to get the letter through the post.”
William, 77, a retired civil servant from Llwynhendy, said: “I joined Samaritans partly because I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and I had family support, but not everyone has support. By joining Samaritans, I felt I could help people with similar problems.
“I found the training very interesting and the people doing the training were excellent. There was no modern technology, so things were a bit more basic than they are now.
“We work in a completely different way now, but then we used to go in twos to visit people in their homes. We also used to go to hospital with people when they had overdosed, and we stayed with them and checked on them at home afterwards.
One incident particularly stays in William’s mind. “It was a beautiful summers’ day and I got a call at home when I got back from work. The leader couldn’t find anyone to go out to this person, and he asked if I would go on my own.
“I agreed and went to see the man, who was suicidal. I talked to him and he went home.”
Then, a few months later, William was at the branch in the office and saw the man in the meeting room. “He said: ‘If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here now’. That made everything worth it.”
William supported prisoners in Swansea Prison as part of Samaritans’ Prison Listener Scheme for 22 years. “So many young people don’t have a chance in life. They were shunted from one children’s home and foster home to another, and were totally unsettled.”
William was also seconded to a project supporting people with HIV and AIDS in West Glamorgan in the 1980s at the height of the stigma and misunderstanding about the virus. “It was hard going, but you really felt you were helping people,” he said.
“I have loved volunteering all my life,” he added.
William will attend a ceremony at Buckingham Palace to receive his award next year.
For more information please contact Samaritans Media team on 0208 394 8300 or [email protected]
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