Thursday 19 April 2018

Samaritans Ireland launch major volunteer recruitment campaign

Claire Withers of The Samaritans. Picture Mark Marlow
Claire Withers of The Samaritans. Picture Mark Marlow
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Samaritans Ireland have launched a major recruitment campaign as they look to add to their more than 1,800 active volunteers across the country.

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.

Samaritans Volunteer - John, Waterford
Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media
Samaritans Volunteer - John, Waterford Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

He said: “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.

She said: “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.

She said: “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.

Regional Director for Samaritans Ireland, Cindy O’Shea, urged people to consider becoming a Samaritans volunteer.

Brigid, an ex-nurse, is five years volunteering with Samaritans Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media
Brigid, an ex-nurse, is five years volunteering with Samaritans Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

She said: “Every six seconds someone in distress contacts Samaritans. We offer round-the-clock emotional support to anyone who is struggling to cope with whatever life has thrown at them. We give them a safe place to talk in the knowledge they won’t be judged, but will be listened too.

“As the new year begins, consider making a difference to someone’s life by volunteering with Samaritans.  There are a wide range of roles which ensure the running of the service 24/7, from administrative support to fundraising. Please contact your local branch to find out more.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer with Samaritans Ireland visit www.samaritans.ie/volunteer, call 1890 200 091 or contact your local branch for more details on information nights.

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