I began volunteering with Samaritans 6 years ago after attending an open night in Limerick in 2011.
Attending that open night was a real eye opener for me, I realised I didn’t know anywhere near as much about Samaritans as I’d assumed. From the service they provide, to the calls I’d receive and the type of person who could become a volunteer; anyone can be a Samaritan as long as you believe in what you’re doing and you’re willing to listen.
I think it’s important for everyone to realise you can’t underestimate the power of listening.
Allowing someone the space to talk, and really listening to what they want to talk about, are skills I’ve tried to adhere to both on and off duty.
Since joining Samaritans, I’ve been faced with a whole range of opportunities, which I may never have encountered before. They have included outreach programmes; giving talks in schools, youth groups, Men’s Sheds and the GAA partnership. All of which go a long way towards reaching the most vulnerable in our community with a strong message; we’re here, we listen.
My current role as Regional Marketing Officer allows me to coordinate with branches around the country to create awareness of Samaritans, allowing me to acquire a whole new skill set. Stepping up to the role meant stepping outside of my comfort zone and challenging myself to undertake brand new endeavours, all of which were progressively scary but ultimately worthwhile.
What really drives me though are the callers and knowing that by being there to pick up the phone I may have given them a beacon of hope.
No matter where you are in life, the need to be heard and the need for empathy are things that will be with us always.