Christmas is 'Ear' and the Swindon & District Samaritans are giving the gift of listeningNew figures reveal one in three calls to Samaritans on Christmas Day are from people who feel lonely and isolated. The festive period can be a challenging time for some and that’s why Samaritans volunteers from Swindon & District branch are helping to keep the service running for those in need throughout the Christmas break, even on Christmas Day.
Samaritans responded to more than 400,000 calls for help during December 2017, by phone, email and text throughout the UK and Ireland. Despite all the festivities, more than 11,000 of those calls for help and emotional support came in on Christmas Day.*
Samaritans is asking all of us to give the gift of listening this Christmas, by encouraging friends and family going through a difficult time to open up and know that it’s OK to not be OK, even at Christmas. To make it easier, the charity has produced a set of vouchers to download from the Samaritans website, offering time to listen as a present. A pair of novelty socks won’t save a life but listening can make a huge difference.
Emma Gale knows just how much difference it can make. She endured years of health problems and was unable to get a diagnosis. Emma said: “In the run up to Christmas 2016 I was sent home from hospital. I felt ill, very lonely and a burden to everyone around me. I decided my family would be far better off without me and made plans to end my life. After driving to a quiet spot, I decided to call Samaritans for the first and only time in my life. I just needed someone to talk to, so I didn’t feel so alone.
“The impact of that call was huge, it was a listening non-judgemental ear. From there my life completely turned around. The next day I went to a hospital appointment and I got a diagnosis for a rare genetic condition. I will never forget what that Samaritan did for me that Christmas, they gave me the biggest gift possible – the gift of life.”
Emma’s life has changed so much since that call that now she’s become a Samaritans volunteer herself and will be doing a shift on the phones over Christmas for the first time this year, helping others who are struggling to cope.
Swindon & District Samaritans Volunteer Director Darren Tee said: "Christmas for many is a time of joy, happiness, family and friends. For others though the opposite is true and the Christmas spirit only exacerbates feelings of loneliness as well anxieties and fears. It is for this reason that volunteers at Swindon and District Samaritans will be giving up their time this Christmas to be there for those that need it most and to give the gift of listening. Our volunteer listeners are on the phones all year round at all times, day or night, providing a safe space for people who are struggling which includes being there this Christmas. We help people to explore options and to talk through those things that are making life hard at that moment in time. Through doing so, the Samaritans vision is that fewer people will die by suicide as they have a place to turn to. No matter what it is that you might be going through, the Samaritans will be there to listen.”
Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive for Samaritans will be one of thousands of volunteers answering the phones this Christmas. She said: If you’re feeling like it’s all too much, let someone know, don’t hide your feelings. You can always call Samaritans. Whether you’re on your own, or alone in a crowd, feeling lonely and isolated can be exacerbated at this time of year. If you are having a good time at Christmas, make time to listen to others if it’s not so great for them. Just having someone to listen can be a huge relief, and make things easier to bear.”
You can download Samaritans’ Give The Gift of Listening vouchers for free at: http://www.samaritans.org/christmas2018. You can also give the gift of listening with a donation to help ensure that Samaritans’ services are there for anyone who needs them this Christmas and every single day of the year. You can also follow the campaign on social media #GiveTheGift.