Maureen is a Samaritans volunteer and helps to train our Prison Listeners.
"I was living in the Middle East when I joined Samaritans - they were part of Befrienders Worldwide. I was working in a school and my colleague thought I would make a good Samaritans volunteer.
"I became director in Bahrain – it was very different from Samaritans in the UK because I had lots of people I could call on – a GP, a sex therapist, and a reverend working out of the local cathedral. It was quite a feudal system out there and maids and servants were often not well-treated. We had to rescue quite a few people. And some ex-pats out there found it hard to adjust, and they would call us.
"When I came back to the UK I saw an advertisement in the local paper for Samaritans volunteers and I applied and was accepted. I have been at Rotherham since 2003 and volunteering in HMP Lindholme for ten years.
"In the beginning the Listener scheme was not easily accepted by some of the staff, who said things like: “I don’t know why you bother, it won’t do any good”, it was the old attitude that you lock prisoners up and throw away the key.
"The three of us who originally got involved went in and were very positive. We had great big grins on our faces and talked to everyone, from the gatekeeper onwards.
"The Listener scheme is now much more accepted by prison staff who think it is a great help, and that it is important for not only the people who become Listeners, but also the people who need help. The attitude to Samaritans has changed and people are very friendly.
"I get a tremendous sense of achievement from it because you see people change. I particularly remember one young man who kept his head lowered and never said very much, although he took it all in.
"Gradually he came out of his shell and sat up a bit straighter and gained so much more confidence. It was very satisfying to see him change so much and become a full time Listener.
"By the time people have become Listeners and been through the vetting and the training, they really want to do something to help. It does look good on their CV, but by that time, they have become so involved that the CV doesn’t matter and they are just happy to be Listeners."