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Calls to Samaritans’ helpline in Ireland rose by more than 10% in 2022, with volunteers answering over 1,000 calls a day from people struggling to cope.
The Samaritans Ireland Impact Report for 2022 launched by Minister for Community Development, Integration and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD, showed volunteers spent 65,000 hours on the phone giving support to callers in 2022.
Samaritans is the only 24-hour emotional support helpline that covers the island of Ireland, with over 2,000 volunteers in 21 branches nationwide (13 in the Republic of Ireland and 8 in Northern Ireland). Three additional satellite branches have already opened or are scheduled to open this year.
Executive Director of Samaritans Ireland, Sarah O’Toole, said, “Together, we will continue to make a lasting impact and provide a lifeline to those in need.”
“It has been a challenging time, but we are proud to say that Samaritans successfully provided essential support to those in need, 24 hours a day."
Sarah O'Toole, Executive Director, Samaritans Ireland
“The rise in calls answered by volunteers shows the continued need for our services and the impact they are making in providing emotional support to those in distress. We are focused on being there when people need us most.
“Our volunteers remain at the heart of our service, and we cannot thank them enough for their ongoing dedication to our callers. We are always looking for volunteers and urge anyone who would like to know more about volunteering with Samaritans to visit www.samaritans.ie/volunteer."
Highlights from the 2022 Impact Report include:
- Volunteers answered over half a million contacts (Republic of Ireland: 400,000 & Northern Ireland: 100,000), answering a call for help every *61 seconds. (*all-island).
- The number of calls answered by volunteers in Ireland rose by almost 45,000 (Republic of Ireland).
- The most frequently raised concerns related to mental health or illness (42%), isolation and loneliness (34%), family (30%), and relationship problems (20%). (Multiple issues can be raised in one call.)
- A call needing emotional support lasted an average 26 minutes.
- More than 18,000 calls were answered from inmates in Irish prisons.
- 4,500 calls were diverted to Samaritans from other helplines when they closed out of hours.
- 300 new volunteers completed training.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the Impact Report, Minister for Community Development, Integration and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD, paid tribute to Samaritans volunteers, who are embedded in communities across Ireland.
He said: “I am delighted to launch the Impact Report, which shows volunteers answered 1,000 calls and emails every day, offering support to those living in isolation or struggling to cope, no matter where in the country they live.
“Samaritans volunteers are the backbone of the charity and are there for people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even in the early hours of the morning. It is incredible that a volunteer-led charity is supporting others in need for over 60 years.”
The report is being launched during World Mental Health Month, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues worldwide. Samaritans urged anyone in need of support to call freephone 116 123 or email [email protected]
James Boyle joined Samaritans as a volunteer several years after contacting Samaritans for support.
He said: “When I was a teenager, I struggled with my mental health. I was really rattled with anxiety, but I couldn’t pick up the courage to talk to anyone about it.
“I remembered volunteers from Galway Samaritans coming into my school to give a talk some years earlier. I tried to call the helpline a few times, but every time someone picked up the phone I hung up.
“I began emailing Samaritans instead. That gave me the time to be able to write down everything and provided a safety net to be able to tell them how I was struggling.”
James said that, over time, he was helped to deal with his issues and get the strength to move on.
“From there, I plucked up the courage to talk to my doctor. If I had not have talked to Samaritans, I couldn’t have asked for help like that,” he added.
Several years later, James spotted a poster for Samaritans and became a volunteer with the Dublin branch.
He added: “I wanted to give back what others had given to me and being a volunteer provides a lot of fulfilment in my life. Volunteering for me has brought so much personal and professional development. Skills I’ve gained here have been transferred to so many other areas of my life.”
Note to editors:
- Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.ie.
- Samaritans branches are based in: Athlone, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, East Coast (Arklow), Ennis, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny-Carlow, Limerick & Tipperary, Newbridge & Kildare, Sligo, and Waterford & the South East.
- New satellite branches opened in Carlow and Castlebar this summer, with a third satellite branches due to open in West Cork (Clonakilty) in the coming weeks.
- To volunteer with Samaritans, visit www.samaritans.ie/volunteer
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