Coronation Street actor Channique has been a Samaritans volunteer for over four years. Recently, Channique put her Samaritans skills into practice when she noticed someone that she thought needed help on her drive back from a shift. Channique trusted her instincts and approached the man to ask if he was OK.
She is now encouraging others not to be afraid to approach someone they are concerned about by supporting the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign.
"I decided to sign up to be a Samaritans listening volunteer around four years ago after a young man from home, called Sam Hill, took his life. Samaritans was a way that I could honour his memory and be there for people in a similar situation, who maybe feel like they have no one to talk to.
"As a listening volunteer, just being that person to listen and support someone through a moment of crisis is a massive privilege. We help people who are in desperate need but also those who are having a bad mental health day and I want more people to know that. We’re here for people to have moments of connection and help them work through their problems.
"In November last year, I was driving home from a Samaritans shift when I noticed a man in distress. I drove past but could see him in my rear-view mirror and I just knew I had to go back and check if he was OK. I’d just finished a Samaritans shift – I thought ‘this is why we do it’. It was a 10-minute drive back, but I pulled up and he was there, so I jumped out the car and simply said ‘hey, are you OK?’. He said he was fine, but I asked again and said I wanted to check as it was super cold and dark, but he reassured me he was fine and thanked me for asking.
"Even though it was no more than that, I am so glad I did make that decision, because maybe it did interrupt a thought process and showed him that a random person cares. All you can do is ask if they’re OK – if he wanted to share more, I would have listened or pointed him to Samaritans, but he didn’t want to and that’s OK as well.
Asking someone ‘are you OK?’, three simple words that even if they end up being fine, it’s a nice thing you’ve done anyway.
"I think it’s important for people to remember that this isn’t about being the hero. It’s about understanding the basic thing that as human beings a bit of compassion and connection can go so far, and you don’t need training for that. So, even asking someone ‘are you OK?’, three simple words that even if they end up being fine, it’s a nice thing you’ve done anyway. It’s about showing others we care and that they’re not alone.
"It's worth putting yourself out there and if in that process you help someone, even better."