Chapter 2: Foreword
The last two years have been unlike any we have encountered. Life across the island of Ireland has changed in ways we could never have imagined. For many people it has been very challenging and continues to be so.
Across our 21 branches, through our 2,000 volunteers in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Samaritans has continued to be here providing a listening ear for anyone who is struggling. Our listening service has been at the core of Samaritans' work for over 60 years, always offering a trusted space for those who need us. Because of the remarkable commitment of our volunteers and staff team, we keep our helpline services open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. The hope our volunteers provide saves lives.
With our new strategy, we want to do even more to reduce the levels of distress, anxiety, isolation, and hopelessness that lead people to contact us in the first place. Opportunities exist across the island of Ireland to make real and lasting change and ensure fewer lives are lost to suicide. We will work hand in hand with our funders to ensure our work is relevant and supportive of national policy objectives, bringing Samaritans’ expertise, knowledge, and resource to the ongoing development of our work.
We know that structural inequities, poverty, addiction, poor physical health, isolation, discrimination, and the denial of people's basic human rights are factors fuelling poor mental health across the island of Ireland.
We know that people living in the most deprived of communities, including middle-aged men from low-income households and members of the Traveller community, are much more likely to take their own life than those in the wealthiest communities. It is incumbent upon all of us within Samaritans Ireland to support these communities where we can and speak out on these issues when we can.
Over the lifetime of this plan, we commit to the following:
- We will build our volunteering offer, becoming more reflective of the communities we serve, diversifying access and sustaining our listening service for all those who need us, resulting in a 20% increase in our overall volunteer numbers.
- We will work collaboratively - with those who have experience of suicide, self-harm and marginalisation, supporters, volunteers, and staff - to influence local and national structural change.
- We will pool our expertise with partners in other sectors to build our understanding of risk factors for suicide and campaign for change so that fewer people reach the point of distress or despair.
- We will do more to promote our range of services with workplaces, schools, communities, media, and civic leaders to support positive intervention and reductions in suicide on the island of Ireland.
- We will achieve the highest standards possible in the governance and management of Samaritans Ireland resulting in the Triple Lock Governance Standard by the end of 2023.
Our goal is to ensure fewer lives are lost to suicide. We aim to achieve this by always being there to listen, by bringing evidence and an experienced voice to suicide prevention, by challenging inequity, and by working hand in hand with people who need us every step of the way.
Chair, Samaritans Ireland
Board Executive Director, Samaritans Ireland