Rodney joined Samaritans as a listening volunteer and after retiring went on to become a Friend of Samaritans.
For the past eight years I’ve been a listening volunteer for Samaritans. This means taking calls from people whose lives are troubled in one way or another and on rare occasions from people who want to end their life.
Samaritans is purely a listening service. We never judge or give advice and many Samaritans have experienced similar issues to those of our callers, which is another reason why we are able to empathise, listen and understand without judgement.
Becoming a fully fledged listener
The training is stringent and lasts for 10 weeks initially. Following this, volunteers begin taking calls, supported by a mentor. More training follows and then the volunteer is able to take calls without an experienced person by their side. Once they have finished the probation period, they become a fully-fledged Samaritan. Training however doesn’t end there and there’s lots of opportunity to learn in other areas too, like becoming a prison visitor or working with students, for example.
Experience in other areas of the branch
I’m no longer a volunteer listener but I’ll certainly be continuing with Samaritans. I have replaced my listener hat with another which will mean being involved with the nuts and bolts of the organisation, as a ‘Friend of Samaritans’. This will see me helping to raise the profile of the charity as well as much needed funds.
There’s a large band of us who offer support at local hospitals and schools - it’s not just adults who struggle with life! We also work in pairs fundraising outside supermarkets, on very cold mornings or at fetes and town centres at all hours of the day!
I feel very privileged and proud to call myself a Samaritan but also humbled. I hope I have given courage to others and if I have helped just one person I’m grateful to have made a difference.