Samaritans on call at Christmas

St Helens Star: Samaritans are always ready to listen Samaritans are always ready to listen

SAMARITANS are preparing for a busy time this Christmas.

The national helpline is preparing to answer 15,000 calls a day over the festive period and the branch which covers St Helens as well as Halton and St Helens is gearing up for a hectic time.

Last year volunteers from the branch answered 12,652 calls for help. On Christmas Day eight volunteers from the 54 strong branch will be answering calls around the clock from people struggling to cope.

One of those December 25 volunteers will be Brian Carter who is due to retire but will spend his 22nd Christmas manning the helpline.

Brian said: “When I started volunteering in 1991, I had been made redundant and I felt that now I had spare time on my hands I should do something positive for my local community. A good friend influenced me to volunteer for the local branch of Samaritans and I have ‘been there’ for all those who haven’t had the same good fortune as I have, to enjoy the benefits of a loving, close-knit family and very good friends.”

On Christmas Day Brian will be doing his shift as usual, very much aware of the present difficulties affecting so many people socially and financially, which puts a strain on relationships and family life.

He said: “At this time of the year, it can be really difficult for many people who feel alone, especially the elderly, and those who suffer with mental health issues and who feel isolated.

“It is my privilege to listen and support them and, although I can’t wave a magic wand to make things much better, I can assure them that Samaritans is always there for them 24/7 to ‘hold their hands’ in their distress and despair."

Samaritans’ chairman Stephen Hoddell said: “We want to let people know that Samaritans is here if things are getting to them. When many other services shut down for the holidays, our volunteers continue to be available, answering calls round the clock. Thank you to every single person who is spending Christmas volunteering, you are inspirational.”

You can contact Samaritans at any time on 08457 909090 or 01925 235 000, or email jo@samaritans.org.uk. The branch that covers St Helens is on Arpley Street, Warrington is open 7.30pm – 9.30pm Monday – Friday for people wishing to talk in person.

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