Samaritans in Galway are launching a major volunteer recruitment campaign to encourage people to get involved with the charity to give something back to the local community and help change people’s lives.
Established in Ireland in 1962, there are now 20 Samaritans branches across the country with over 1,800 active volunteers on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 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, face-to-face in communities, through written correspondence and in prisons.
Listeners 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.
John, a beekeeper, has been a volunteer with Samaritans for over 30 years. “I’ve got far more from it than I’ve ever given. It has been enriching in so many aspects of life. Listening, which seemingly is nothing, means so much to so many. It’s enriching to find so many people from all walks of life working within the movement.”
Brigid, an ex-nurse, is five years volunteering with Samaritans. “I’m continuously overawed by the honesty, openness and courage of the callers. I’ve learned so much from them, and feel humbled to be trusted by them. I found the training excellent and by adhering to the guidelines it becomes easier to take calls and not to give advice but to listen. I’ve become an active listener, which is so important in life. I’ve also learned patience and living in the present. The importance and power of listening can never be underestimated.”
Claire, a mountain runner, began volunteering just a year ago. “The training is intense and long but leaves you ready to start listening and hopefully help someone who at that time needs to talk. Samaritans is a unique listening service in that we don’t give advice, we listen and do so for as long as the caller needs to talk. The power of this can only be fully appreciated when you start your journey in the Ops room taking calls and answering texts and emails.
“I have learnt so many new skills and will continue to do so as a Samaritan. Once you finish your training that is just the start of your journey.”
As well as supporting people emotionally, Samaritans volunteers undertake outreach in the community, fundraise, and take on administrative roles, all of which are vital to ensure that the service remains available round the clock, every day of the year. Trained listeners also give face to face support in branches, as well as festivals and events.
Anne Wynne, Director of Samaritans in Galway said: “It is a privilege to volunteer with Samaritans and our weekly duty becomes a very rewarding and satisfying part of our lives. The active listening skills, which we learn as a listening volunteer, can also help in work and personal situations.
“When no one else will listen, Samaritans will. It is extremely rewarding to offer support to people who don’t know how to cope. All our branches are looking for more listening volunteers so that the next time a person contacts Samaritans we have a volunteer who can respond.
“Listening isn’t always verbal. It can include emails and text messages too. We want volunteers who are confident writing responses to our callers who contact us in times of distress.
“Manning our services isn’t enough. We need publicity officers to communicate details of our service and our contact details in the local community. Also we need new and creative ideas for raising money. And we need people to donate their time to help out at events and collections. Could you be one of these people,” asked Ms Wynne
If you are interested, please get along to one of the Open Events
Saturday February 10 1pm at 14 Nuns island Galway
Monday February 12 8pm at 14 Nuns Island Galway
Or contact Mary on .. 086 2468203 or [email protected]
To find out more about becoming a volunteer with Samaritans Ireland in your area contact your local branch on 086 2468203, or fill in an application form on www.samaritans.ie/volunteer