If you are calling in Republic of Ireland

At Samaritans we are committed to protecting your privacy.  The purpose of this statement is to explain how Samaritans processes your data, whether you are using our service, interested in volunteering, making a donation or just browsing our website. 

Samaritans is made up of 201 branches in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, some of which are independent charities.  The branches are co-ordinated by Samaritans Central Charity.  Three branches within the branch network are not within the European Economic Area (EEA): Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.  These jurisdictions are however on the European Commission’s “safe” list of countries for personal data exports.  The branches in the Crown Dependencies are subject to the same policies and procedures as branches in the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

Samaritans takes appropriate technical and organisational measures to keep your data safe.  We do use “cloud-based” applications to process some types of personal data and data may be stored outside of the European Economic Area.  Where this happens we ask our suppliers to provide evidence that they have the appropriate measures in place to make sure that your data is secure.

As the service we provide changes, we may need to alter our privacy statement on the website.  If you have any queries about this statement please contact the Data Protection Office at Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2AF or email at dataprotection@samaritans.org.

If you use Samaritans' service

Samaritans supports people in distress through its support service.  The service is available by telephone, email, SMS, letter and face to face in a number of settings.

Our service is designed so that the volunteer can’t see your phone number or email address when you contact us. However, some of this information is available on our central systems and can be accessed by staff.  

  • If we need to look into a call or series of calls (for example if you need to make a complaint, we can see telephone calls made to Samaritans on our central system, but see an encrypted telephone number.
  • If you contact jo@samaritans.org , we do our best to mask your email address by replacing it with a caller ID and message ID before it reaches a volunteer.  If you reply to the email we send you, your actual email address may be visible in the addressee line.  This depends on how your email client is set up. If you would like to avoid this, you should review the whole of your email message (including any historic messages, usually shown below your current reply) before you press send, and delete any mention of your email address. Emails are responded to by volunteers in the UK. Details of our UK privacy statement can be found here
  • If you contact us by letter, the volunteer will be able to see your postal address
  • Unlike the telephone helpline, your telephone number will be visible if you contact Samaritans Central Office in the Republic of Ireland or the UK.

In general, we try to keep as little information about you as possible.  Volunteers may take notes when they talk to you to assist in the conversation.  These notes are shredded at the end of the call. 

We also record some statistical information on each emotional support contact, to report on and improve our service. This includes information such as gender, and how distressed you were at the time you contacted us. This information never reports about specific people. We don’t record your phone calls to the helpline but volunteers and staff may from time to time listen in to calls for training, support, or research purposes.

Where we provide emotional support in locations outside of the branches, our volunteers will take steps to ensure that any notes taken for statistical purposes are kept secure and securely disposed of once the data has been entered into the contact log.

If we are concerned about you and want to offer you extra support, we may keep information you’ve given us to help us know it’s you when you call again and so we’re up to date with your situation. We share this information within Samaritans, because we work as a team to provide you with the best possible support.   An example of this is the setting up of assigned support; this is where we will arrange for volunteers to contact you at pre-arranged times.  This can be helpful if you find it difficult to go over previous conversations or if you are going through a particularity difficult time.   Assigned support is not open ended or long term, it is a temporary form of extra support and is only put in place with your input and agreement. 

Any records about callers are kept for a limited amount time.  This ranges from30 days for caller emails and SMS messages to 6 months for letters to our Correspondence service.  

We’ll never pass any of this information on to any other organisation, except in the following situations:​

  • We receive a call about acts of terrorism or bomb warnings
  • We receive a court order requiring us to share information
  • We call an ambulance because at that time it appears that you are not able to make decisions for yourself and you have told us where you are
  • We are working in partnership with another organisation and you have given consent for your information to be shared
  • You directly ask us to pass on information about you to someone else
  • You threaten the safety of our volunteers
  • You compromise the delivery of our service, for example by making it difficult for other people to get through, or by misusing telephony or other technology
  • You are a child who has experienced harm or is at risk of harm, and you have told us information which identifies you, or if you have provided information about a child in these circumstances, in which case we may contact the relevant services as we are required to do so in line with Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children
  • You provide information that identifies someone who has caused harm or says they are going to cause harm to a child.
  • We may contact you to offer our support if you are referred to us by another organisation or individual. Once we have contacted you we will destroy your contact details, unless you agree to further contact – in which case we will, with your consent, keep the contact details.  Another time we may keep your contact details is if you meet any of the criteria above.  

You can find more information about our confidentiality in these circumstances here

From time to time we have to take decisions to limit an individual’s access to the service.  If this happens, we will make every effort to inform you as to the reason why we have restricted your access.  For example, we may ask you to give us a contact number so that a member of our Caller Support Team can call you to talk about your support needs.

In either of the above circumstances, we may limit or withdraw access to the service, as abuse towards volunteers is not acceptable and we cannot be in a position where your use of the service prevents Samaritans services being used by other people.  In extreme situations we may also involve the police.

If you wish to discuss your use of the service or appeal a decision, please contact the Caller Support Team on +44 20 8394 8300, email caller.support@samaritans.org or write to the Caller Support Team, Samaritans, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey KT17 2AF.  Please be aware that if you call Samaritans Central Office, your telephone number may be visible to the Caller Support Team and may be logged for administrative purposes.

If you threaten our volunteers and we bar you from our service, we may report your abuse to the police and circulate your CCTV image to local branches if this available.