How we select our volunteers

“It makes me feel great, after a lot of training, mentoring and building up of experience, to be able, at last, to call myself a fully qualified Samaritans volunteer."

Information evenings

When you complete the volunteer interest form, your local branch will invite you to their next information evening.

This is a chance for you to meet volunteers from the branch, ask any questions you might have and talk about the volunteer role(s) you are interested in. Our volunteers will also have an informal chat with you about what made you want to volunteer and any concerns you might have.

(Some branches only have these evenings at certain times of the year, in which case there may be a little wait.)

Will I be selected…

…to be a support volunteer?

This will depend on whether the branch has vacancies that suit you at the time. If they don’t, they may recommend you apply to another branch in the region, or they will keep your details on file for use in the future.

…to be a listening volunteer?

After you have attended the information evening and decided you want to go ahead with your application, we’ll ask you to fill out a simple application form and supply a few references, and then attend a selection session at your local branch.

This involves activities to explore your views, see how you interact with others and how you respond to different issues. It helps us get to know you and is a chance for you to learn about us – and you might even learn more about yourself!

The selection team in the branch, including those of us who first spoke to you and those who were there during your selection session, will then decide if you can go on to train to be a listening volunteer (we’ll talk to you about our decision). You’ll also need to decide if volunteering with Samaritans is right for you.

We invest a lot of time and money in selecting and training listening volunteers, so we’re looking for people who want to stay with us for a while.

To make sure we provide the best support to people who need us, we have to make sure you’re right for the role. This means not all applications to become a listening volunteer are successful.

The whole process, from the volunteer information evening to the final selection decision, can take a few months depending on the number of applications.

Basic selection criteria to become a volunteer

You don’t need to have previous experience or qualifications, but you do need to be interested in other people and open-minded.

Our listening volunteers are:

  • willing to understand others’ points of view
  • respectful of the way others are
  • honest with themselves and others
  • comfortable with themselves and able to cope with their own feelings
  • willing to learn.

Age - You need to be over 18 years old to be a listening volunteer.

Previous emotional / mental health problems - You can volunteer if you have used our services before, and/or if you have experience of mental health problems. Your personal experiences can give you an understanding needed for supporting others, but we will talk to you about whether you feel emotionally well enough to volunteer at this time.

Police staff - Police Officers and Special Constables (volunteer police officers) cannot be Samaritans listening volunteers because they have sworn an oath to preserve and prevent all offences. This oath could contradict our requirement that all conversations are confidential.

PCSOs - Police Community Support Officers are civilian members of police staff. They have not sworn the oath to preserve and prevent all offences, so they are able to be a Samaritans listening volunteer.

CRB checks - You will have to have a DBS (CRB) check if you’re supporting particularly vulnerable people or undertake particular roles in your branch. A criminal record does not necessarily stop you from volunteering with us.

What happens if I hear nothing following my application?

Let us know and we'll find out what's happened. Email the Recruitment and Selection team or ring the Volunteer Recruitment Line

Still not sure about volunteering for Samaritans?

If you have any queries about volunteering with the Samaritans, please contact the National Volunteer Recruitment team:

  • Tel: 03705 62 72 82 (UK) or 1890 200 091 (Republic of Ireland)
  • Email:
  • Write: Samaritans, Volunteering Department, The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT17 2AF