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August 2012

Pure privilege It is a pure privilege to be a Samaritan. For the caller

to talk to you about private, and oſten embarrassing, matters, is a pure privilege.

We provide various services, there is the telephone,

of course; we do one to one interviews, e-mails. texts and letters. Some branches offer a service for the deaf.

A laugh can be beneficial Something as simple as a laugh can be beneficial. A

sense of humour can help. Not that it is funny when people are depressed or suicidal, but having a sense of humour helps to take the caller seriously.

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Young Samaritans In the fiſteen years I have been a Samaritan, I have

done a shiſt every two weeks and a shiſt once a month all night. A shiſt is four hours. Night shiſts were nine hours, now they are either four or six hours. Midnight to two o’clock in the morning is the busiest time. During all that time I have also served as a Branch Trustee, Vice Chairman, and Chairman. Tere is no retirement age, but you must be at least sixteen years of age to start. Some of our young (young in age that is) Samaritans are very good indeed.

Volunteers from all sections of society

We attract volunteers from all sections of society and try to make the most of everyone, but some feel that being a Samaritan is not for them.

Tere have been days when I think I will

give it all up. However, I think I shall be involved with the Samaritans for a good while yet.

Often I call into Mass All the calls are talked over on the shiſt and

with the Leader. Oſten I call into Mass on my way home and leave it all at the Altar. A lot of Samaritans are Christians, as well as of other faiths, but not all. We are not a Christian, or even a religious, body.

National emergency number It is not our job to solve problems. Our job is to help

the caller deal with whatever it is that caused them to telephone us, perhaps in a different way. A depressed male caller may be asked if he has shaved that day, or a female one if she has applied lipstick?

The call is the callers, not ours We must always remember that the call is the callers

and not ours. It is not Samaritans’ job to stop them taking their own life, but maybe we could ask ‘why?’ Usually suicide is the final straw. Even so the caller may not mention the real problem facing them, other than as an aside.

Depression is an illness With depression, one must realise it is an illness. As

soon as the caller realises this and that you understand, you get a reaction. Other illnesses are obvious and visible; depression is not.

Each Branch is self-financing. General Office get

funding, but this does not go directly to the Branches. Branches raise their own cash in any way they can. Some have a shop, others are funded by local charities. Our Branch has no paid staff whatsoever. But we do have one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty volunteers.

Tere is always a minimum of two on every shiſt.

Tere are four day-time shiſts and two night shiſts. Tis would be for a large Branch with three emergency telephone lines. Each Branch has its own emergency telephone number, but there is a national emergency number which goes to the nearest Branch. It is 08457 90 90 90.

We are grateful to John for talking to THE PORTAL

about his important and inspiring work with the Samaritans.

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