Work of Westmeath Samaritans highlighted in new report

Giovanni Doran, volunteer representative for Samaritans Ireland; Deputy Willie Penrose; and Teresa Bell from Athlone, a volunteer with the Midlands Branch of Samaritans, pictured at the launch of Samaritans’ first ever impact report for Ireland.

Giovanni Doran, volunteer representative for Samaritans Ireland; Deputy Willie Penrose; and Teresa Bell from Athlone, a volunteer with the Midlands Branch of Samaritans, pictured at the launch of Samaritans’ first ever impact report for Ireland.

Volunteers from the Midlands Branch of Samaritans were in Dublin last week for the launch of Samaritans’ first ever impact report for Ireland. The report highlights the work of Samaritans’ 12 branches in the Republic of Ireland, including the Midlands Branch, which is based in Athlone.

Following the launch of the impact report, Samaritans volunteers met with members of the Oireachtas to brief them about their work. The Midlands Branch – which has 70 volunteers – was represented by branch director Liam Stenson and his fellow volunteers, Mary Carley, Michelle Horan, and Teresa Bell. The volunteers met with a number of political representatives, including Longford/Westmeath TDs, Peter Kelly and Willie Penrose.

Samaritans provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide. The organisation operates a low-call 1850 number, which costs six cents to each caller from a landline, regardless of how long a call lasts.

The Samaritans impact report shows that, from October 2009 to November 2010, Samaritans recorded 243,000 calls to its helpline in Ireland. This represented an increase of 13,000 calls on the previous 12-month period.

One of the most striking trends in the past year was an increase in the intensity of calls received: the level of distress and anxiety being expressed by callers was more intense than in previous years.

Speaking at the report launch last week, Suzanne Costello, director of Samaritans in Ireland, said: “There has been a correlation between Ireland’s deepening economic crisis and the number and nature of calls to Samaritans. Many of our callers over the past 12 months were experiencing relationship difficulties, which were exacerbated by financial difficulties. Fear of unemployment, self-harm, and anxiety about the future were also common reasons for calls to Samaritans.”

Samaritans’ services – in the Midlands and throughout the country – are delivered by trained volunteers: over 1,300 people volunteer with the organisation in Ireland.

Copies of the impact report launched by Samaritans Ireland are available to download from: http://www.samaritans.org. Further information about the organisation is available at: www.samaritans.ie

Samaritans’ helpline number is 1850 60 90 90. The Midlands Region Branch is located at 3 Court Devenish, Athlone, and can be reached on (090 ) 6473133.

 

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