Although Samaritans is a national organisation providing 24 hour support to people in emotional distress, it is made up of 201 branches across the UK and Ireland.
As well as manning the phones, email, text and face to face support at each branch, a significant amount of work is needed to promote awareness and partner with other support groups locally.
The North Herts & Stevenage Branch, located in Hitchin, are involved in a number of efforts in our area as part of this effort. This includes:
Presenting talks to local organisations and schools
We recently participated in a Stevenage initiative aimed at Primary School children to educate them about talking about their problems etc
We have a stand at the Lister Hospital on the first Wednesday of each month by the Wishing Well which has created a lot of interest from patients and staff
The Samaritans organisation has established a partnership with Network Rail nationally with the aim to recognise people in distress and make an intervention to offer support. Locally we have a presence regularly at Stevenage, Hitchin, Knebworth and Biggleswade stations which includes supporting Network Rail staff, raising awareness and responding with Samaritan volunteers in the event of an incident – the support is for anyone involved – staff and passengers.
We partner with other local organisations supporting vulnerable people such as MIND, AA. Homeless shelters. As part of this we make an appearance once a month at the Letchworth based Cheap as Chips who provide the opportunity for a cheap lunch and company to vulnerable people.
All the work is done by volunteers, there are no paid staff at local branches. Many people give up their time to be at the end of the phone/email/text or talk face to face for people to be able to talk in confidence and anonymity without being judged, when they need to share their feelings of unhappiness or are trying to work out how to cope with life.
In order to keep the work going we need to keep the branches running which requires a lot of effort from the Fundraising team, known as Friends, which helps pay the bills – phone, electric, gas etc. This involves activities such as collections at local supermarkets, attendance at local events, sponsored events such as runs, walks, cycles etc.
The fundraising we will receive from Austins will help in a number of areas. Although this is still to be finalised, one area in particular that has already been identified is to help with training costs for Samaritans. In order to provide all the services we need to, it is necessary to provide specialist training for the additional roles that volunteers take on following their initial intensive training to become Samaritans. The type of activities the additional training includes are:
Train the Trainer
Recruitment & Selection
This training usually incurs a fee as well as travel expenses are they can be held in different parts of the country.
For anyone deciding to become a Samaritan it offers the opportunity to support your local community and people in need but it can also provide on a personal level the opportunity to develop new skills and life experiences. We are always looking for new volunteers so if you would like to find out more please contact us on 01462 455333 or email us on:
To find out more visit our website at www.samaritans.org/hitchin