What you might not know about Samaritans

I am honoured to write press releases for an amazing group of volunteers who run the charity Scunthorpe Samaritans. While I have been helping the branch secure the publicity it needs to raise funds and awareness I have been on a journey of discovery, learning about the valuable work it does for those who need help in North Lincolnshire. I was surprised to find there was so much about this amazing charity which I did not know before, so I thought I would share what I have learned.

The Founder of Samaritans

Samaritans was founded by Dr Chad Varah, who was an Anglican Vicar working in the City of London. He was concerned about high levels of emotional distress in his parish which was sadly leading people to suicide. He took the first call to Samaritans on the evening of November 2, 1953. A bonus fact for me was to learn that Dr Varah was born in my hometown of Barton Upon Humber where there is a memorial garden in his name.

Its vision and mission

The aim of Samaritans is to reduce the number of people who die by suicide and it works to achieve this vision by helping people in distress and providing support to reduce suicidal feelings and behaviour.

The volunteers

Samaritans is staffed by teams of dedicated volunteers and there are regular appeals to attract new volunteers to its ranks. Listening volunteers are who often spring to mind when we think of Samaritans – they are those wonderful people who answer the phones and listen to those seeking help. But before they take on this important role they must have a full training program which takes five to eight weeks, when they learn how to deal with all the different types of contact they may receive and how to respond to people who are upset, distressed, or suicidal.

There are also Support Volunteers, who you might describe as the face of Samaritans, and can be found out and about raising funds, volunteering in a Samaritans charity shop, or manning an information stall at an event.

Startling facts

I was aware volunteers answered telephone calls and worked through the night but what I did not realise was there is someone available all day and night, for 365 days of the year, even on Christmas Day, which can be the loneliest and hardest time for those struggling to cope.

Someone contacts Samaritans every six seconds, and last year the Scunthorpe branch answered over 20,000 contacts. Most contacts with Samaritans are made by telephone, but also news to me was that volunteers also offer face-face support in their branches, and support via email and SMS.

Working with other organisations

Samaritans has close working relationships with other organisations including the NHS, local authorities, the rail industry, prison service, and other charities that can have contact with vulnerable and suicidal people.

Who do Samaritans help?

Most people identify Samaritans as a charity which works to prevent suicide but listening to people who are struggling to cope with any distressing feelings is a step towards reducing any suicidal feelings which could occur as a result of the problems they are facing. Topics which people contact Samaritans about include:


Terminal illness

Loneliness and isolation


Relationship breakdowns

Family disputes

Transgender issues

Domestic violence

Drug addiction




Bullying and harassment

Work-related stress


Benefit problems


Physical and sexual abuse

Sexual problems



For more information about Samaritans visit www.samaritans.org and click here to find out more about Scunthorpe Samaritans, how to volunteer and donate.

I would like to thank Patrick Hall, a volunteer with Scunthorpe Samaritans, for his help in providing background information, facts and figures for this post.

So far, I have had 100% success rate in helping achieve publicity for the Scunthorpe Branch of the Samaritans. If you would like to find out more about the writing services I offer to charities, at a discounted rate with the odd freebie thrown in, please contact me, Joanna Woodhouse on 01652 634013/07773301225, or email joanna@joannawoodhouse.co.uk  

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