“What I love is that when I’m on the phone with callers, it’s not about me, it’s all about them. I learned the ability to really listen and not talk about myself”.
Volunteer Week, which has just been celebrated, has been a timely reminder of the growing importance of Samaritans in these post-lockdown times.
The annual event, which ended on June 7, was a wonderful way to thank and celebrate the contribution of the national volunteer force for the remarkable work undertaken by these unsung community heroes.
It is their dedication that maintains a thriving spirit of public service, no matter what.
Samaritans is a charity that truly appreciates the amazing work that volunteers do.
How many volunteers are there?
The charity relies on a network of 22,000 amazing people who give their time for free 24/7 to ensure the service is there for anyone struggling with the ups and downs. bottom of life.
Their selfless contribution is inspiring.
One such Samaritan hero is 46-year-old Rich Holliday. He says he volunteers because he can feel like he’s helping.
“What I love about Samaritans when I’m on the phone with callers is that it’s not about me, it’s about them.
I learned the ability to really listen and not wait to talk about yourself.
He added: “I can now listen without any prejudice.
“I decided to register to become a volunteer listening to the Samaritans.
“I completed the training in September 2019 and then started taking calls.
“I was helping callers throughout the pandemic from the Huddersfield branch.
“I am now the deputy branch manager there.
“I was able to get out of my house and do something other than my day job in the rail industry.
“I feel like the Samaritans have been one of the emergency services throughout the pandemic, and it’s been an honor to be there for people.”
Proud to be a volunteer
He added, “I have also formed very good relationships with people through my volunteering.
“My current shift partner and I come from very different backgrounds, but we get along very well and I love hearing each other’s views and perspectives when we chat between calls.
“In January 2022, I received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honors List after being nominated by my employer, TransPennine Express.
“It was a brilliant way to start the new year and to be recognized that way.
“In addition to my volunteer work for the Samaritans, I received the award in recognition of my contributions to mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
“I was even invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate.
“Another big inspiration for me to sign up as a volunteer is the fact that I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
“I’ve had it for a number of years, but was diagnosed about seven years ago – when it became a bigger issue and affected my life.
“I was thinking too much and worrying excessively.
“It’s a pain to deal with, but I’m dealing with it very well now – thanks to medication, lots of exercise, a good work/life balance and talking about it openly and not hiding it.”
Any kind of help given
Responding to cries for help isn’t the only way to help support local branches of the Samaritans, as Sandeep Saib, 33, from Ilford knows.
She signed up to be a support volunteer during the pandemic and she says it’s a great way to put her skills and expertise to good use for a great cause.
She said: “I work full time so being a support volunteer is so flexible and works around my work and personal commitments.
“I find that while I’m helping the charity, I also gain skills by learning from others.
“I have a few projects that I manage, from managing the subsidiary’s Twitter account to building a database of contacts for outreach work.
“Support volunteers are the crucial backbone of the branch and make sure everything runs smoothly. For some, volunteering is just one way to support Samaritans.
Run along the right track to help
Self-proclaimed ‘substandard’ runner Rashi Wright not only volunteered at the Chilterns branch taking calls, but she also decided to run 12 marathons in 12 months to raise funds.
Beginning his challenge last October, after a few COVID-related false starts, Rashi put on his trainers in Manchester.
She then headed out for a hilly marathon in Dorset, which she describes as “scary”.
Since then she has been to Liverpool and she has also been to Reading for her races, with other marathons also run between these two monumental races.
Rashi sadly lost her father to suicide, so it’s really important to her to make sure there are funds to keep the service running for anyone in need of support.
Rashi said: “My dad loved jogging and I think he would be proud of the challenge.
“My local branch is amazing, run by kind-hearted volunteers who provide round-the-clock support to people in emotional distress.
“The Chilterns branch is an incredibly wonderful and incredibly caring team.
“On average, Samaritans respond to a call for help every ten seconds. Imagine if they were all life-saving calls! Now, that’s pretty amazing.