Volunteering with Samaritans: a statement on 'workfare'

"Samaritans is a volunteer-led organisation whose vision is that fewer people die by suicide. Our 20,000 volunteers respond to more than 5.7 million calls for help every year, by phone, letter, email, text, and face to face in our 201 branches across the UK and Ireland. Our volunteers are also involved in outreach work in prisons, schools, workplaces and the community, partnering with many different organisations including the NHS and emergency services to be there to support anyone who may be vulnerable. Some of our volunteers also manage and run fundraising activities, as well as staffing our charity shops.

"We are regularly approached by individuals who see the positive benefits of volunteering with us for their study, work, career or personal development goals. We take each request on its merits and, where we have the capacity to support, supervise and mentor individuals so that they gain knowledge, insight and skills, we will try to accommodate them. Just as with our listening and support volunteers, those who join us for a shorter period of volunteering tell us that is has been a positive experience, and has helped them to achieve their goals. We believe volunteering should be completely voluntary and not linked to benefits sanctions and advise our branches not to accept ‘volunteers’ from mandatory work schemes."