"I’ve served my country, now I’m proud to serve my community as a Samaritan"
If I had to describe myself in a few words; I’m a civil servant, ex-military and ex-wife. I have lived alone for some time and I’m comfortable with my own company. But having said that, I have a big family and I’m close to my brothers and sisters. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company and I love spending time with my nieces and nephews, who are my joy in life.
I’ve travelled far and wide with my job, and I’m now living in my 17th home. The longest I’ve settled anywhere is three years. I’ve always wanted to volunteer but being on the move all the time made it hard. When the chance came to settle down a little, I applied to volunteer at my local branch.
I felt as if I’d be a good fit as a Samaritan.
From working overseas away from family and friends I knew about loneliness and isolation. I also understood that being surrounded by people, like you are in the military, doesn’t mean you always feel happy and included. But it was the suicide of a cousin that was the catalyst. If I could just be there for one person, who wanted or needed to talk, it would be worth it.
I searched online and found the application. It was easy to complete, and the recruitment process was straightforward. The way I describe the training was humbling, informative and revealing of myself.
I say this because, though I’ve been a senior member of the military, I learned so much. The trainer was phenomenal – and her experience, knowledge and energy were both impressive and infectious. I felt encouraged and appreciated at every step and built strong friendships and relationships with my fellow trainees.
Samaritans aren’t just here for callers, we’re here for each other too.
For various reasons, a few trainees weren’t able to complete our training and at one point I felt like giving up too. Another volunteer stepped in to encourage me, giving me a pep talk and using the skills she had as a Samaritan to help me through my concerns. It was her encouragement that made me stay the course.
On my first session, I took some calls from people misusing the service. I’ve learned that calls like this happen now and again, and we are equipped to deal with them. They can be hard to manage, but following any difficult call, as Samaritans we are here for each other, and I can rely on the support of my fellow volunteers.
Another call that sticks with me is when a caller cursed at me for being a “white, overweight woman getting off on callers’ problems”. My training kicked in and I didn’t tell her she couldn’t be more wrong! I just let her speak, listening to the pain underneath. I’m glad I did, as the caller eventually worked through her anger, opened up and talked through her troubles, getting the support she needed!
As a listener, I learn from every caller’s situation that life could be so much worse without anyone to listen to you. The Samaritans training, and the incredible people I volunteer alongside have contributed positively to my life too because it assures me that there is always someone who will listen.
However you choose to volunteer, your support is vital to helping us achieve our vision