Local Samaritans increase community outreach initiatives

The Samaritans Outreach team based in Galway have successfully delivered talks on emotional health to more than 500 secondary and college students in just three months.

Since September the team, located at 14 Nun’s Island, has given the talks as part of an initiative they will endeavour to continue into the new year with the view of visiting any school, community group, or workplace that is interested in hearing what they have to say.

Reaching out to the community is something that the Samaritans of Galway is really focused on. Earlier this year, the local Samaritans in conjunction with IBM facilitated students from four secondary schools in Galway to put together and develop their own website about emotional health and how important it is to know where to get support when going through tough times. The schools involved in this initiative were Calasanctius in Oranmore, Galway Community College, Moneenageisha, St Joseph’s Secondary School (The Bish ), and Colaiste Iognaid (The Jez ).

Commenting on this iniative, local Galway director of Samaritans, Heather Pope, said: “It was a hugely successful partnership and our thanks goes to the staff at the IBM base in Galway for their massive contribution.”

Last week, the Samaritans Ireland Impact Report was launched at Buswells Hotel in Dublin which highlighted how reaching out proactively to people who are vulnerable and distressed is critical.

Director of Samaritans Ireland, Suzanne Costello said: “The level and ease of engagement with which people seem to react to Samaritans volunteers is encouraging, we plan to increase our visibility next year to ensure that our face to face engagement with the public continues.”

Local public relations officer for Galway Samaritans, Patricia Hynes said: “Talking about how you are feeling is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength, because for many people feelings of anxiety can be hugely distressing and overwhelming. By talking to a Samaritan volunteer about how you are truly feeling, in complete confidence and without judgement, can be a huge unburdening of anxiety and distress for someone who at any stage in their life are feeling vulnerable for whatever reason and need some extra care and support.”

Ms Hynes added that the vision of Samaritans is one where fewer people die of suicide and also the belief that the only sustainable solutions to a person’s problems are the ones they actually find for themself.

The local branch of Samaritans in Galway continues to be extremely busy with a notable increase in the number of calls related ot the financial crisis as well as from persons experiencing some sort of crisis in their lives due to loneliness, depression, or just the pressures of everyday life.

"We're thankful to all of those people who continue to help us do what we do - to those wonderful people who fundraise for the helpline - thank you. We get a limited amount of funding from the HSE and National Lottery, for which we're extremely grateful, but which covers less than 10 per cent of the overall running costs of the branch each year. We rely totally on the goodwill and generosity of the people of Galway and Mayo who seem to recognise the continuing need for our service. Without them, we couldn't continue,” said Ms Pope, who added that Samaritans will be there for people throughout the holiday period with volunteers manning the helpline on Christmas Day as usual.

Anyone experiencing feelings of distress or despair can call Samaritans on 1850609090, call in to the local branch at 14 Nun's Island from 9am to 8pm most days, text on 087 2609090 or email [email protected] for non-judgemental, confidential emotional support.

Anyone wishing to join Samaritans as a volunteer, should call 091-561224, for more information. Recruitment will begin again in early 2013. Those interested in arranging a talk on emotional health by the Samaritans Outreach Team can contact 087 2342853.

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