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24/7 Samaritans: The Big Listen

Posted by Guest Post on July 21, 2020

The Big Listen main logo

If anything positive can be said about COVID-19, it is that a certain amount of community spirit has emerged with neighbours helping each other and many families getting even closer.

We forget that our harsh and fast-moving internet age has often resulted in a loss of regular personal contact with others. This leaves some people at risk from debt, poverty, loneliness, mobility issues, inadequate health care, or having to cope alone with the effects of a disability. It isn’t easy. Shortages of items we for so long have taken for granted, restrictions on our freedom of movement; they all take their toll.

Fortunately, there is an esteemed charity that is there to listen, advise and help – The Samaritans – and they are just a phone call away.

About The Samaritans

In 1953, a concerned and enlightened London-based clergyman with the intriguing name of Edward Chad Varah called for volunteers to listen to the plight of others contemplating suicide as a way out of their problems. He saw a need and acted upon it. His views were controversial at the time through a lack of understanding of the issues surrounding mental health, yet he persevered.

From this small start grew the organisation we know today; one that covers much of the world under the overarching banner of Befrienders Worldwide.

The Samaritans in the UK rely solely upon voluntary support and since those humble beginnings in 1953, have helped so very many distressed people via their now-famous telephone hotline.

Today, the registered charity works across all modern communication methods through its website and social media channels. Their scope has broadened considerably, but their core value remains – the desire to help others. On average, they receive over 5 million calls for help every year – that’s a daunting statistic.

How The Samaritans Can Help Today

Daily life for many people is a struggle, especially those living with a disability, even before coronavirus struck. The resulting reorganisation of how we live, the need for face masks and the difficulties of self-isolation have resulted in many people not having anyone that can help. The fear of the Covid-19 virus and its outcomes have resulted in mental health issues for many. It is only natural for people to be concerned about a threat they can neither see, nor counter, and that is why, during this emergency, The Samaritans have remained at their telephones, 24/7.

24/7 Samaritans – The Big Listen

The Samaritans are available to help twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And The Samaritans has chosen the 24th day of the seventh month – 24 July – for their Awareness Day.

The Samaritans Awareness Day has become an annual event, and its purpose is to highlight the work of the charity; to raise awareness of what they do and to encourage individuals to contribute financially, or otherwise, and for UK companies to help through sponsorship and donations.

Local branches of the charity will be setting up coffee mornings, bake sales and other fun events. Of course, these will run under the Government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

It’s also an opportunity to find out more about what is happening in your local community. Behind the scenes, many people volunteer, giving up their time for free to listen and try to help others.

All volunteers undergo several weeks of training and with good reason, as a volunteer requires knowledge and an empathetic ear. Trained volunteers visit schools to talk and listen to young people about their emotional issues and how to cope with adversity. Similarly, The Samaritans offer teaching staff a resource called DEAL, which provides plans, activities and digital resources which can be downloaded at any time from the charity’s website.

 Difficult Times

2020 has been an unprecedented year. Some hard lessons have been learnt, including changing our ways from the ‘old’ to the ‘new’ normal. Most of us have never encountered anything like it. Even for the able-bodied, mobility has been an issue so we can only imagine how folk living with disability have coped.

Parents, carers and schools, colleges and universities can all now benefit from the service offered. That’s why we are grateful to organisations like The Samaritans for consistently being there, ready to take the call for help.