Samaritans Ireland are encouraging people to get involved with the charity to give something back to the local community and make a difference to people’s lives.
Men and women of all ages and walks of life are among those who dedicate three hours a week to those most in need. Some overnight shifts are also required.
Samaritans are best known for the vital support given to callers on its 24-hour telephone service, but volunteers are also on hand to offer support by SMS, email and face-to-face in communities, festival, outreach events and in prisons.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer with Samaritans in Galway contact your local branch on 086 2468203 or fill in an application form on www.samaritans.ie/volunteer In Galway, an Open Meeting will be held on Wednesday February 13 and all are welcome to attend at 8pm at Menlo Park Hotel.
Regional Director for Samaritans Ireland, Cindy O’Shea, urged people to consider becoming a Samaritans volunteer.
She said: “As Samaritans volunteers, we offer round-the-clock emotional support to anyone who is struggling to cope with whatever life has thrown at them.
“Even on Christmas Day we answered almost 1,000 calls, spending more than 150 hours on the phone. Our busiest hour was between 10pm to 11pm when volunteers answered a call every 45 seconds.
“As the new year begins, we call on people to consider making a difference to someone’s life by volunteering with Samaritans in one of our branches nationwide.
“As well as supporting people emotionally, there are a wide range of roles which ensure the running of the service 24/7, from administrative support to fundraising, so please contact your local branch to find out more.”
Established in Ireland in 1962, Samaritans is based in 21 towns across the country with over 1,800 active volunteers on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mary, a carer, began volunteering with Samaritans in Derry over 12 years ago.
“During my time with Samaritans I have learned so much. I’ve grown and developed as a person and the sense of satisfaction I get from knowing I was able to help and support someone is the best feeling,” she said.
“For me, Samaritans is a family and we offer each other help and support whenever we need it - whether we are dealing with something personal in our lives or with a challenging call. My experience of volunteering with Samaritans has been life-changing. It takes commitment and dedication, but you’ll be paid back a hundredfold.”
Enda, an air traffic controller, has been volunteering in Ennis since 2012.
“Anyone can be a Samaritan as long as you believe in what you’re doing and you’re willing to listen,” he said.“Allowing someone the space to talk, and really listening to what they want to talk about, are skills I’ve tried to adhere to both on and off duty.
“What really drives me though are the callers and knowing that by being there to pick up the phone I may have given them a beacon of hope. No matter where you are in life, the need to be heard and the need for empathy are things that will be with us always.”