I ran the Marathon Des Sables in 2016 which is a seven-day footrace across the Sahara Desert and one of the most mentally and physically challenging goals I have ever set myself.
As well challenging me and helping me to learn a lot about myself, it was the beginning of my journey with Samaritans in Belfast, as they were my chosen charity.
I was struck by the vital work Samaritans do and how little funding they get. I had no experience of the type of work they do at all but went ahead and applied to be a listening volunteer. The training is intense and long but leaves you ready to start listening and hopefully help someone who at that time needs to talk.
Samaritans is a unique listening service in that we don't give advice, we listen and do so for as long as the caller needs to talk. The power of this can only be fully appreciated when you start your journey of taking calls and answering texts and emails.
I have learnt so many new skills and will continue to do so as a Samaritan. Once you finish your training that is really just the start of your journey. Listening, it’s a skill that has powerful and positive results.
I use mountain running with my beagle as a place to get headspace. It’s where I gain clarity and see things in a different light. We all need to talk and sometimes it’s easier to share your thoughts and feelings with someone who isn't connected to you. That’s why Samaritans is such a unique service.
Claire. One year a volunteer. Mountain runner. Listener.
“We don't give advice, we listen and do so for as long as the caller needs to talk.”