| 11.3°C Dublin

Westlife launch Samaritans' new Sligo text service

AMID the Christmas celebrations with a New Year beckoning, it should be a time of joy and hope but for many, if truth be admitted, it's the worst time ever.

However, as always throughout the year, 24-hours a day every day, there's a listening ear for those depressed or "feeling down", thanks to Samaritans volunteers.

And now the boys from Westlife are helping Samaritans get their message out with Shane Filan, Mark Feehily and Kian Egan having launched a new phone texting service which is currently being advertised on Ocean FM radio.

The service is simple to use. By texting SAMSO51500, the texter will immediately receive a message, as well as occasional messages throughout the year from Sligo Samaritans.

"We particularly want to get to young men," a Samaritans spokesperson told The Sligo Champion, adding that they now had young volunteers for young people out there to talk to. "The message this Christmas and New Year is 'nobody need be alone,'" the spokesman said.

He pointed out that now was really the worst time of year for some people. He cited examples which trigger loneliness such as when visitors depart and people are left on their own again, relationships may become strained or break up, thoughts turn to exams ahead and, of course, there's the looming credit card bills that will be dropped through the mail box in January.

This is Sligo Newsletter

A weekly update on Sligo's leading stories in news and sport, straight to your inbox

This field is required

Children are also returning to school after Christmas, creating huge pressure on parents, particularly single parents. And spare a thought for some parents who may not have seen or had access to their children at all during Christmas.

"From now until after St. Patrick's Day is a tough time," the Samaritans spokesperson pointed out. "The message is that we are here for anybody. And we have a lot of young volunteers now for young people out there to talk to."

Sligo Airport opened in the early hours of Christmas Eve to allow Westlife get home in time for the holiday period.

Following a special request the airport opened at 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve to allow a jet carrying Westlife members and Sligo natives, Shane Filan, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily to land. The 12 seater Citation 560 Ultra jet flew the band from Zurich to Dublin where they stopped briefly to let Nicky Byrne disembark before flying on to Sligo.

The jet remained overnight at the airport in Strandhill before taking off for Zurich early on Christmas morning.