How the Samaritans helped me and how they can help you

In the last two years, I have been helped twice by the Samaritans. The first time was when I had a number of personal, family and work issues piling up. I felt as though everything was getting on top of me, and that if I wasn’t careful, I would end up feeling worse. As usual my family were a great support to me. But I just felt I wanted to reach out to another human being, unconnected with the situations, to share what I was going through.

I emailed [email protected] . Emailing seemed the best thing for me in that situation. I just wanted to share my issues with another human. – To know some other person was reading my thoughts. It was an insurance policy to an extent. I hoped, and my hope turned out to be fulfilled, that emailing “Jo” would help put a limit on my feelings of being somewhat overwhelmed by life at that time. Jo wrote back and was very sympathetic. Jo helped focus my thoughts. Jo read and understood what I was saying, and acted as a “shoulder to cry on”. A safety valve. Jo promised to be there if I needed to share more. Things gradually sorted themselves out. But it was good to know that I had “Jo” on the end of an email in case I needed more support – to let off steam, set out my thoughts, whatever…

More recently, I lost an important electronic item. Although I am not technical, I worked in the computer industry for 35 years so I am acutely aware of what can happen if you lose an electronic item. Perhaps too acutely aware! I just felt such a complete prat for losing the item, and the possibilities of what could happen ran through my head and scared me.

Again, I emailed Jo. Again they were very sympathetic and I realised that I was worrying too much. And indeed things settled down and there were no bad consequences.

I’m sharing this because it is hopefully a good way to encourage you, oh LDV reader, to contact the Samaritans if you need to.

You don’t have to be at the end of your tether to contact the Samaritans, although they are there for you if you are at the end of your tether. You can also contact them if you are simply feeling lonely, a bit “down” or rather overwhelmed.

They are ready to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And there are several ways to contact a volunteer at the Samaritans. You can phone free of any charges on 116 123. You can text on 07725 909090. As I mentioned above you can email them on [email protected] . You can call in person to talk face to face with a volunteer. You can write to them via old fashioned “snail mail”. There’s a Welsh language line – Llinell Gymraeg): 0808 164 0123 (7pm-11pm, 7 days a week / 7pm-11pm, 7 diwrnod yr wythnos). Callers who are deaf or who have hearing or speech impairments can contact them for support by text on 07725 909090 or email by using [email protected] or by using the Next Generation Text (NGT) service.

More details of contact methods are here on the Samaritans website.

There are also details here of what happens when you contact the Samaritans.

There’s also some great stuff about people who have been helped by the Samaritans here.

The service is confidential, non-religious, and non-judgmental. The volunteer who responds to you will simply listen or read and help you focus your thoughts. They will not suggest things you could do or talk about themselves.

The photo above is of the Drogheda Samaritans premises by William Murphy on Flickr/CCL.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Jayne mansfield 11th Dec '17 - 2:26pm

    @ Paul Walter,
    Thank you for a really important post, Paul.

    The Christmas and new year holiday is portrayed as a time of happy family get- togethers, of merriment and good cheer, but for many it is a time of added stress and anxiety. For others a time when social isolation becomes even more unbearable.

    I would urge anyone who needs a supportive, non- judgmental ear to contact the numbers that you give. As humans, we all need extra support at times in our life, and the Samaritans offer this.

  • Well done Paul, and yes it’s a timely reminder.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Dec '17 - 3:28pm

    I found support after the car crash. My husband was 33 years. I’d like to remind that drinking and driving and and drugs don’t mix. At times in my life I’ve been without sight, I was born with sight issues. One of my grandchildren is anorexic, another close family member who is in their 20’s suffer severe depression, it causes my family great concerns that those close to us suffer.
    I wish you well, I’ve learnt to cope, like others, time is a great healer. Most certainly, you gain strength from the knocks in life.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Dec '17 - 5:00pm

    Paul, it will come. My sincere wishes to you.

  • I spoke to the Samaritans once when I was at a low ebb. That was years ago. I hope they train their volunteers better now.

  • Mark Blackburn 11th Dec '17 - 9:04pm

    I don’t always agree with every political point you make Paul but I felt compelled to respond now – what a heart-warming and brave post, thank you so much for making it. I wish you all the very best, and others too – I know from close experience many people don’t find this an easy time of year.

  • Thank you for this important article.

  • Sue Sutherland 12th Dec '17 - 12:57pm

    Thank you Paul for this brave and helpful post Paul. I hadn’t realised that the Samaritans would help in this way, when life gets on top of you rather than being such an unbearable weight that you want to end it.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Dec '17 - 2:28pm

    Paul this is very good share as you are amongst friends and colleagues. I appreciate that you you are able to do this.

    I have given advice to people both professionally as adviser to unemployed clients for some years, particularly those in creative industries, some of my clients saw me as a personal as well as professional adviser, such was the trust. That work dried up in the Brown years, for some reason. It was remarkable to be trusted so much and I valued that I was , because I went beyond the basic remit and clients knew it.

    I have often thought of volunteering with the Samaritans. A great actress and good woman , I met, the wonderful Sheila Hancock, was a Samaritan, as well as a Quaker attender, for years.

    However, since my own situation has got so much worse, particularly financially, and as everything I do seems to be a one man, effort, or two person one , with my wife, I think my concern is how oblivious people are.

    My heart goes out to Helen, a terrific contribution as ever, from someone who says she does not understand politics. Probably because she is so good at understanding people.

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