Volunteer story - Julia and Gerald

Julia and Gerald Ginns have been volunteering at Northampton Samaritans for nearly 40 years, and have held a number of roles at Samaritans.

What inspired you to volunteer for Samaritans?

Julia: It is so important for people to have someone to turn to when they're struggling. I am a great believer that talking something out can help people find a way forward, without being told what to do. I started volunteering for Samaritans in our first year of marriage. I have been Branch Director, Regional Director and Vice Chair and I am now a Branch Visitor for Samaritans.

What do you do for a living? How does that fit around your volunteering?

Julia: I am now retired, but formerly I taught piano. I also worked at Samaritans' Central Office for 11 years until 2012. Being retired now, the volunteering fits very well with daily life and monthly night duties.

Gerald: I am also retired, but I used to teach languages. Being retired means I am now available for daytime and midweek night duties which can be more difficult for other volunteers.

How has volunteering affected your married life?

Gerald: It is a big interest we have in common. Our children now support the work of Samaritans and our two daughters were also volunteers for several years.

Are there any other married couples at the branch?

Julia and Gerald: Yes, we seem to have been one of those branches that have had several couples, over the years.

What skills have you developed by volunteering for Samaritans?

Julia: I’ve learned acceptance, tolerance and hopefully understanding, because of the many and varied situations we come across. Also being involved in many organisational areas, I’ve developed training skills and a technical knowledge.

What would you say to encourage people to volunteer for Samaritans?

Julia and Gerald: The rewards are immense, knowing you can be there for those who are struggling. There is an enormous need to listen to people. The training is second to none, and you’ll become part of the most wonderfully supportive group of volunteers you could ever imagine – many say it is like being part of a big family.