Samaritans: volunteers available to listen and support over festive season

Anyone who is struggling to cope this holiday season is being reminded that help is only a phone call away.

In Northern Ireland each year, Samaritans volunteers gave up their time between Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day to answer calls. Volunteers are available to listen and offer support and understanding 24 hours every day of the year.

Each volunteer answers an average of 12 calls per Christmas shift, with callers sharing a wide range of personal challenges from mental and physical health struggles to family and financial issues, relationship problems and isolation and loneliness.

Marie, the director of Ballymena Samaritans, said: “We know life’s problems don’t melt-away when we switch the Christmas lights on or off and for many people the festive season and New Year can be a difficult time.

Each volunteer answers an average of 12 calls per Christmas shift

"That’s why it’s so important to make sure there’s always someone there to listen over the festive and New Year period and throughout the year.

"For me, volunteering is an important part of my Christmas and helps me to put my own celebrations in context.

“With rates of suicide rising here in Northern Ireland and across the UK, Samaritans has been a vital lifeline. The support offered by Samaritans is crucial during the cost of living crisis.

"You can contact us at anytime free on 116123 or via email [email protected] – you do not have to give your real name, you will not be judged and every contact is treated in confidence.

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"You do not have to be suicidal to contact us, talking to us allows you to work your way through all of your options.”