Wednesday 22 October 2014

The volunteer

Published 09/08/2014 | 02:30

Picture posed

Gillian Leo (48) from Kilkenny has worked for the Samaritans for a decade.

On top of her day job as a business analyst, Ms Leo sometimes works up to 20 hours per week in her position as branch director in Kilkenny and Trustee to Ireland on the board of directors.

She believes that volunteering with the organisations Ireland has changed her life for the better.

"It has made realise how naïve I was before I thought about other people on a larger scale and I now understand a little bit more about the extent of some people's hardship," she added. Despite the obvious rewards of helping people, Ms Leo admits that some days can be extremely tough, especially when you talk to people that are in desperate need of some guidance.

"Sometimes people ring you and their situations are harrowing, and you mightn't hear from them again," she explained. "Sometimes they are referred to someone else, but I'm always wondering how they are and if they're OK".

Most people ring the Samaritans' helpline during the night, when other organisations have turned off their phones.

"One night, someone rang and said 'I just wanted to know that someone was there for me' and hung up the phone. That's the reason I get out of my bed at 3am," said Ms Leo.

Irish Independent

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