Once a Samaritan, always a Samaritan. I volunteered 20 years ago and now I’m back
My name is Simon but at Samaritans I’m known as Sid. I’ve been married to my husband Paul for 15 years, and have been a foster dad in the past. I say ‘in the past’, but our relationship with our foster son is still strong today, even though he’s now an adult too.
I work as a Clinical Tutor for a private health company. Maybe it’s because I’m in the healthcare sector that I’m more aware than most people, how important it is that mental health care is improved.
I worry that people have no one to talk to.
I’ve always been aware of the importance of having someone listen to your story. It is the reason I volunteered as a Samaritan in the first place, back in 2000s. After a gap of 20 years I’m back because Samaritans’ philosophy stayed with me. It’s about listening, while being non-judgmental, non-prescriptive and allowing the caller to make their own decisions about their situation.
When training started, I remembered from last time how tough it can be, but was quickly reassured by the number of tools we are given to deal with whatever calls come in.
People can show a range of strong and negative emotions and that is tough, because you know they continue to battle with themselves after the call is ended. Calls like that can touch a nerve and linger with you afterwards for a short time too.
But you never feel adrift or unsupported because you can talk to your shift leader and fellow volunteers, and we all help each other through the difficult calls.
I feel honoured callers are able to share difficult moments in their lives with me
You can never second-guess how a call is going to turn out. After a long conversation with one person, who was really at a loss and fighting with their emotions, they said something darkly humorous and made themselves laugh. At that moment, it felt appropriate that I should join in. I must admit, it’s not something you usually find yourself doing.
At the end of the call they said that my laugh was the first happy sound they had heard in weeks, and that they appreciated me letting them rant on at the world. All I did was listen and read the situation correctly, and I’m glad to know I was the one who laughed with them.
It may be my second time around as a Samaritan but you never stop learning. There aren’t ‘types of people’ or ‘types of call’, everyone is an individual who needs and deserves to be listened to by someone. I feel honoured that someone is me.
However you choose to volunteer, your support is vital to helping us achieve our vision