Samaritans are giving the gift of listening this Christmas — when it is most needed

Samaritans volunteers in Galway are giving the gift of listening this Christmas by ensuring its services remain open for those most in need throughout the festive period.

Christmas can be a challenging time for some and that is why Samaritans volunteers from Galway branch are helping to keep the service running over the festivities - even on Christmas Day.

Almost 53,500 calls for help were answered by volunteers across Ireland last December, with 1,300 volunteers on duty throughout the month.

Anne Wynne, Galway Branch Director will be one of thousands of volunteers answering the phones this Christmas and New Year.

“If you’re feeling like it’s all too much, let someone know, don’t hide your feelings. Whether you’re on your own, or alone in a crowd, feeling lonely and isolated can be exacerbated at this time of year.

“You can always call Samaritans on freephone 116 123, text 087 260 9090, email [email protected] or visit us at 14 Nuns Island Galway City Centre. If you are having a good time at Christmas, make time to listen to others you may need support,” she said.

Galway branch is also calling on the public to support them on the Longest Night of the year, Friday 21st December, to remind people Samaritans are available during their darkest hours.

A candleligh t walk will be held. Starting out from 14 Nuns Island at 6pm, Samaritans, supporters and families will walk, towards Eyre Square. Please join us for just a short time to light the darkness which so many may be feeling at this time.

“It’s really important we highlight that whatever people are going through, at whatever time of the day or night, we’re here to listen,” Anne added.

This will be the 20th year one local Samaritan will volunteer for a Samaritans duty on Christmas Day.

The Galway branch volunteer said whether someone is on their own, or surrounded by family, problems can crystallise over the festive period and trying to achieve the ‘perfect Christmas’ can bring extra pressure and strain.

“There’s so much ‘happy clappy’ stuff for weeks in the run up to Christmas, especially on television, and it can be difficult when it’s not like that at home. People can be alone at Christmas, and sometimes that’s by choice, but for others they may be bereaved, separated or have fallen out with family and they find it difficult to get through the season. It’s very special to be there for someone on Christmas Day.”

“Until you’ve sat in a Samaritans phone room and taken those calls over Christmas, you have no idea how tough it can be for a lot of people. Some people assume Samaritans are just about suicide prevention, but there’s so much more to what we do, so many issues we deal with on a daily basis.

Christmas feels like a condensed version of that, people’s problems seem to be turned up a notch at this time of year, it can be tough, but it also makes it extremely rewarding. For me, not to be answering the phones over Christmas just isn’t Christmas at all. The best present we can give someone is our time to listen.”

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.

You can download Samaritans’ Give The Gift of Listening vouchers for free at: http://www.samaritans.org/christmas2018.

You can also give a donation through your local branch or on the website to help ensure that Samaritans’ services are there for anyone who needs them this Christmas and every single day of the year.

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