Samaritans in Athlone are reminding those in need this Christmas that its helpline will be open for them during their darkest hours as if they are struggling to cope during festivities.
Volunteers across Ireland answered more than 40,000 calls for help during the month of December last Christmas, including almost 1,150 calls on Christmas Day.
The Athlone branch will also mark the longest night of the year this weekend with a candlelight walk to show people they are there for them during their darkest hours.
The candlelight walk will commence from Count John McCormack Square on Saturday, December 21, at 7pm.
Aisling Curley, lead volunteer with Athlone Samaritans, will be among those on duty this Christmas Day.
“It can be incredibly rewarding to be there for someone on Christmas Day. The people who call us are often on their own and feel isolated and lonely, they may be in the middle of a family dispute, or simply feel overwhelmed by the day as it’s not always like how it’s depicted on television or in the movies. It’s a time of year that can be a pressure-point for many people.
“Other people often call us to say thank you for being there for them during the year. By marking the longest night this weekend, we are also saying to people that any over the Christmas period can be a dark day for them and we’re here to share a bit of light for them.
“We want to get the message out that anyone can contact us, anytime over Christmas, on freephone 116 123, text 087 260 9090, or email [email protected]. People can also visit us in our branch in 3 Court Devenish, Athlone if they need to speak to someone face to face," Aisling remarked.
As tinsel and fairy lights adorn the streets up and down the country, it can be easy to overlook how the festive season can be the hardest time of the year for some.
On Christmas Eve 2018, while most households prepared for Santa’s arrival, more than 140 dedicated Samaritans volunteers reported for duty at 13 Samaritans branches across the Republic of Ireland.
On Christmas Day, almost 150 Samaritans volunteers also headed to branches for a three-hour shift and responded to almost 1,150 calls for help from people feeling overwhelmed by the festivities.
Each volunteer answered an average of eight calls per Christmas shift, with callers sharing a wide range of personal challenges from mental and physical health struggles to family issues, relationship problems and isolation and loneliness. Dozens of text messages and emails were also responded to.
Samaritans across Ireland and the UK answered 40,000 calls last December.
For more information or an interview with a volunteer please contact Aisling 087 9835556.