An interview with a Samaritans volunteer

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Lucy became a Samaritan volunteer two years ago. After Lucy was on both sides of the Samaritan phone line, she learned the benefits of speaking and the importance of listening

Hello Lucy, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

I am Lucy and I am a 44 year old single mother of two boys aged 18 and eight. I’ve been a volunteer listener to Samaritans for two years now. I volunteer at the Blackpool office, where I have the privilege of working with the most amazing team of people I’ve ever met!

Why did you become a volunteer Samaritan?

I think the answer to this question begins 18 years ago when I called Samaritans to support myself. I had severe postnatal depression after the birth of my eldest son and had trouble finding a way through it. I called several times during this time of my life and really believe that if I hadn’t spoken to someone back then, I wouldn’t be alive today.

I always knew that one day I wanted to give something back, but obviously had to wait until the time was right. I focused on my nurse career and bringing up my family until I was widowed six years ago. I couldn’t be a nurse anymore because I didn’t have anyone to help me with childcare. So I took a career break until my youngest child went to school and then started a part-time job.

It was then that I decided it was time to volunteer with Samaritans. I wasn’t happy at work, but as a volunteer listener, I felt like I was doing something worthwhile with my time.

Talking to someone who is actively listening can help a person find solutions to their problems, or at least feel they can cope with whatever they are going through.

What have you learned since you volunteered?

I learned that talking is good. But more importantly, I’ve learned that listening is important. I don’t just hear the spoken words, I really listen to what is said. Listening helps the speaker feel that you really care about them. It helps you understand what they are feeling and build relationships with them, which is important if they are to entrust their thoughts and feelings to you.

Talking to someone who is actively listening can help a person find solutions to their problems, or at least feel they can cope with whatever they are going through. Things are somehow easier to handle if you just go through them.

Has the number of calls changed since the COVID 19 pandemic and ban?

The branch was more busy than ever during the entire ban. About 1: 3 callers named Corona virus directly as the reason for their call. As a nation, we are experiencing something that none of us have gone through before, and it is understandable that people are concerned or concerned about what is happening and how it affects their lives.

It is so important that we are there for our callers during this time. We keep hearing how other services have had to close their doors so people are looking for new ways to deal with it. There were certainly people who contacted us who had never done this before.

What are callers talking to you about?

In addition to all of the common concerns people have about Samaritans, there have been new issues specifically related to the pandemic and the ban. I’ve heard of people who are worried about themselves or their loved ones, who are infected with the virus, especially those who work at the forefront. There are also those who have already lost relatives and had to go through the grief process during the ban.

I have also heard of people who find relationships that are strained by the sheer amount of time they spend together, as well as others who have felt heightened isolation and loneliness and who miss friends and family. It has had a negative impact on many people’s mental health and increased feelings of depression and anxiety.

Image of a woman working on a laptop

You are doing an incredible thing, how do you make sure that you take care of your own mental health and well-being?

Taking care of each other as a volunteer is vital. We always work with another volunteer and support each other during the shift. There is a leader who is there during the entire shift if necessary, but we also discuss it at the end of each shift. There is always someone to talk to if something worries you, even when your shift is over.

As a branch, we have a group chat so we can get in touch while we’re locked and unable to meet. We also had weekly online tests. I run on a more personal level! For me it is my therapy and crucial for my mental health.

Do you have any advice for those who want to speak but have not yet taken this step?

I want to ask anyone who feels they need to talk to do just that. Talk to someone who is listening without judging. This can be a friend or family member. However, if no one else is present or you would prefer to speak to someone anonymously and confidentially, please contact Samaritans by phone or email. Talking through problems doesn’t make them go away, but they usually feel more manageable. It’s the old saying of a shared problem …

What can someone expect when they call Samaritans?

Anyone who contacts Samaritans can expect to be heard by a trained volunteer. The volunteer will not be shocked by what you have to say and will listen without judgment. You have complete control over what you want to share with the volunteer without exerting the pressure to reveal more than you want.

The volunteer will never tell you what to do, but hopefully after you have had time and space to explore your thoughts and feelings, you will find some solutions to the problems and / or problems you are facing.

You can call the Samaritans free of charge at 116 123. They are available around the clock, 365 days a year. If for any reason you cannot call during this time, you can email her at jo@samaritans.org.

If you are concerned about your mental health during the outbreak of the coronavirus, the blocking, and the relaxation of restrictions, the Samaritans have gathered some resources that may be helpful, including practical ways to help yourself and what to do, if you are worried about someone else.

While the ban has left many of us unsure and concerned, there is support. During this time, online therapy has changed a lot, so you can get the help you need anywhere.

Visit the counseling directory to get in touch with over 14,000 online therapists.



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