Sheila was on her way to the weekly shop when she saw someone who needed help – trusting her instincts, she struck up a conversation and managed to get them to safety, potentially saving their life.
“Around the beginning of last year, I was on the way to my weekly shop when I came across a young woman in floods of tears. I had taken part in Samaritans’ Managing Suicidal Conversations training over four years ago, but something inside me told me something was wrong, so I stopped the car and slowly approached her. I asked, “has something happened to bring you here today?” and I could tell that instantly broke her thoughts. She told me her name and said she was struggling to cope as she wasn’t able to get the support she needed.
“I then encouraged her to move to somewhere quieter to get her to a safer place and she asked me to call the hospital she was at. Another woman stopped and kindly offered to help. She hugged the young lady and made small talk, whilst I arranged for an ambulance.
It was a very emotional experience, but I was so pleased to have been able to help her.
“Afterwards I carried on to the supermarket where I sat in my car and cried. I called my friend and work colleague who is a trained Samaritans’ volunteer and he said I’d done all the right things. It was a very emotional experience, but I was so pleased to have been able to help her. I believe things happen for a reason and I was amazed to find out that the other lady who helped works in mental health. That evening my sister sent me a message that meant so much to me, she said ‘nobody enters our path by accident, everyone is meant to cross our paths for a reason’, which was so comforting to hear.
“Being observant of those around you and being prepared to help is so important. During the pandemic, I was fortunate that despite living alone, I kept myself busy by volunteering at a foodbank in my spare time and more recently I’ve become a vaccination marshal, but it’s clear the pandemic has been tough for a lot of people. So, I’d encourage everyone, if they see someone who needs help, just say anything – anything that’s going to break that cycle of thought. Even though I was lucky enough to have Samaritans’ training in the rail industry, I think I’m quite an observant and caring person and since that experience I’m even more hyper-sensitive and would do the same again in a heartbeat.
I was just so thankful she was okay and that my instincts had kicked in again.
“I actually saw a man in the exact same spot as the lady a couple of months later and instantly stopped to ask if he was okay and he thankfully was – but you never know and it’s always better than saying nothing at all. I have since helped another young woman on a train too, who was agitated and panicked on the way to her mum's. I overheard her on phone saying, “I’m on the train now, but I would have done something”. Straight away I thought the worst and instantly started talking to her. I spoke to her aunty on the phone and ended up taking her all the way to change trains and bought her a meal deal as she hadn’t eaten. Once I knew she was safe I got the return train back to my car. It wasn’t as emotional as that first experience helping someone, but I was just so thankful she was okay and that my instincts had kicked in again. I did all I could do.”
Image: David Oates/Samaritans