At a time of year when many people are finalising preparations to welcome the family and celebrate the season of goodwill, the Samaritans have launched a Christmas campaign reminding people that the festive season can be the hardest time of the year for some.
The Samaritans are the only charity that is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone struggling to cope. During the month of December, 2018, the charity responded to more than 300,000 calls for help.
On Christmas Eve, 2018, almost 1,650 dedicated Samaritans volunteers reported for duty at Samaritans branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
The next day, more than 1,475 Samaritans volunteers headed to branches and responded to thousands of calls for help from people feeling overwhelmed on Christmas Day.
Each volunteer answered an average of 12 calls per Christmas shift, with callers sharing a wide range of personal challenges from mental and physical health struggles to family issues, relationship problems and isolation and loneliness.
David Moyles, who provides Rural Support for Yorkshire and Humberside, said people come to the organisation in a number of different ways: “What people often don’t realise is that we also take referrals, we’ve had people call while they were standing next to their friend and literally pass the phone to them.”
The calls are all completely confidential and are not recorded. The only time the listeners take any details is if the caller would like a call back or specifically requests that information is passed on.
David said: “If we know an event, such as a funeral for example, is going to be particularly stressful, then we’ll offer to call back and give support later in the day.”
David said it doesn’t matter where people are this Christmas, they can still get in touch from anywhere in the world.
“In the UK, you can call free at any time on 116 123, it won’t show up on your phone bill, or if you’re abroad or you’d rather email the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.”