Gillian's story

Gillian has been picking up the phone for Samaritans for 15 years. It's a really important part of her life.

Here, Gillian describes how her teaching background led her to volunteering at Samaritans.

Gillian on the phone

What inspired you to become a volunteer?

I wanted to be there for people who don’t have anyone else. That was something I felt I could do. People said I was very good at listening; volunteering is playing to those strengths.

But what I really needed to be part of was a confidential listening service.

When I was a teacher, you do realise the difficulties that people have in their home lives; youngsters with all sorts of sadness that’s gone on in their lives, and parents who are really struggling.

But a lot of people felt unable to talk to me as a teacher because they knew information would have to be passed on to someone else.

And that’s the great thing that Samaritans is. You know that anything you tell Samaritans really will not go anywhere else; it won’t be escalated in any way.

It’s a safe place to go. 

I like being there for people who are in distress, for people who are lonely, and for people who don’t have anyone else in their lives they can bounce ideas off.

How do Samaritans help?

What we try and get people to tell us is about how they’re feeling. Sometimes just talking about these feeling and getting these out in the open makes people realise what’s really upsetting them.

One of our questions that we often ask is ‘how are you feeling at this present moment?’, or ‘tell me how you are feeling now?’ This gives people the opportunity to really focus in on what they’re feeling inside at the moment.

How long are you going to keep doing this?

I know I can go on doing that for quite a while! Being a Samaritan, because you’re a voice on the phone, you can be any age.