Samaritans listening volunteers answer calls for help every hour of every day from people who are desperately struggling to cope.
By giving today, you will help us be there for even more people who have nowhere else to turn.
Our new online chat service could be a lifeline for so many people, especially those who don’t feel ready or aren’t able to share their pain out loud. It’s not always easy to find a safe, quiet place to talk, away from others who you don’t want to overhear you, especially as the coronavirus pandemic continues. But rolling out online chat nationwide is a huge task, so we need your support.
Several years ago, Lisa – now a volunteer – was on the other end of the line, contacting Samaritans when she felt alone and totally lost, so she knows from experience how much of a difference your donations make.
Aged 8, Lisa suffered a head injury which left her with a debilitating stammer that had life-changing effects. She was bullied at school and left aged 15, seeking work as a typist as she believed it meant she wouldn't have to talk much. Afraid to talk, Lisa relied on her husband to speak for her, but when her daughter Rachel was 9, Lisa’s marriage broke down. Without her husband speaking for both of them, Lisa lost a vital source of support.
Give today to help change more lives
“I chose a job as a typist, thinking I wouldn’t have to speak but it was very stressful. I still remember it vividly, travelling in on the bus was an ordeal in itself because I couldn’t say where I wanted to go. I often had to write it down on paper or get a bus pass in advance so I could show the driver. I sometimes got off earlier at a stop that I could say and walked the rest of the way.
“Unfortunately, my marriage broke down and I depended a lot on him to do the speaking, everyday jobs like ringing the school, the garage etc. It was then just me and my daughter and I did struggle with the question of how I could bring her up successfully, if for example I couldn’t get on a bus, never mind parents evening and things like that. That was probably the lowest point for me. I had no-one to rely on to speak for me, but I wanted to do the best I could as a mother.”
At a particularly low point, Lisa reached out to Samaritans by email.
It helped massively because it was communication I could do, which is why I love the fact that there are different ways for people to contact Samaritans.
Inspired to try and overcome her stammer for her daughter, Lisa joined the McGuire programme, an intensive course run by people who stammer. During the first course, they set her the challenge of speaking to 100 strangers in Newcastle city centre on a Saturday afternoon. From here, Lisa’s confidence blossomed, and she openly discussed her stammer with friends and colleagues for the first time.
In 2019, Lisa signed up as a Samaritans listening volunteer at her local Northumbria branch, to give back and help those who are struggling in similar situations.
“I’ve gone from being really a bit of a loner and literally never leaving the house to wanting to do everything and anything. I love doing things and getting out, which is why volunteering for Samaritans feels so special.
“I think support is one of the biggest things in overcoming mental health issues, that feeling of not being on your own. I love the fact that people are brave enough to contact us, I don’t take that for granted at all. It’s a huge step and an amazingly brave one.”
Donate today and help roll out online chat
We want everyone who needs us to be able to get support in a way that’s right for them. Online chat will make it possible for anyone who feels unable to speak on the phone to have a conversation with one of our listening volunteers by typing a message on their phone (or tablet/computer) and receiving messages back in real time.
Demand for online chat during initial trials has been far above what was expected. Thousands of people used the service even though it wasn’t advertised anywhere. It’s clear that many people who are struggling want to speak to us in this way.
To launch online chat, we need to roll out the necessary technology at many more of our branches. We need to provide training to thousands of existing volunteers so everyone feels completely comfortable using online chat. We need to recruit and train 3,000 new volunteers. And, of course, the service must be free to use for everyone who needs it. So right now we are depending on the kindness of supporters like you to make online chat a reality.
Thank you for supporting Samaritans today.
Your gift could change or even save a life