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Samaritans Awareness Day

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This Sunday, July 24 2022 is Samaritans Awareness Day.

This month annually, the charity launches its “talk to us” campaign. Although the campaign runs throughout the whole month, on this particular date (July 24), the charity aims to highlight that its services are available 24 hours a day for individuals who need someone to listen to them.

The history of Samaritans as an organisation

The principle idea behind Samaritans was devised by Chad Varah, who lived in London and worked as a priest and a cartoonist.

Describing the reasoning behind the creation of the service, Varah said:

In an emergency the citizen turns to the telephone and dials 999. There ought to be an emergency number for suicidal people, I thought.

Chad Varah – Founder of Samaritans

Samaritans answered their first phone call on November 2nd 1953, although the name of the organisation came the following month after The Daily Mirror ran a story about the organisation which included the line “The telephone good Samaritan.”

In February 1954, Samaritans came closer to the format that we all know today because greater responsibility was devolved from Varah to the volunteers who began to receive the calls from those who need someone to listen to them instead.

In Scotland, the Edinburgh Branch of Samaritans, which was the second branch to be opened, received its first phone call on June 1 1959.

To date, the charity has over 200 branches across the UK and approximately 20,000 volunteers.

GIF Credit: Samaritans

What happens on Samaritans awareness day?

Although it is important to remember that Samaritans are available 24/7, Samaritan’s Awareness Day is a day full of events and activities at the charity’s branches all across the UK. The events aim to raise awareness of the work of the charity which campaigns to “help make sure fewer people die by suicide” and highlight the availability of the service to those who may be considering getting in touch. You can check what your local branch has planned by using the search tool on their website, linked here.

The importance of listening to others

Samaritans Awareness Day also highlights the importance of listening to others.

This could involve taking the time to engage in meaningful conversations with friends and family. Striking up a conversation with others can be incredibly rewarding, because you may learn new things or gain a new perspective on life. These conversations don’t have to be directly related to mental health either and can even start with just a simple “hello”.

It is important to make everyone aware in any conversation that you are always willing to listen to what they have to say and that you will not express a view or opinion on what they have to say.

The listening exercise can take place in whatever situation someone feels most relaxed, this may involve having a discussion whilst doing other activities.

The support which is available to University of Stirling students

The University also has support services in place to help students and offer support throughout their studies.

University of Stirling students can contact student support services via the student portal, email, on campus at the student services hub or via the University of Stirling mobile app. The student services hub over a wide range of support and services. As a student, you can also access the university’s ‘togetherall’ service or explore the university’s website.

Students can also contact their personal tutor for support, you can find out who your personal tutor is via the student portal.

Samaritans contact details

If you want to get in contact with Samaritans, there are a variety of ways in which you can do so, although the time taken to respond may differ depending on which method you use.

Phone number:116 123

Email: jo@samaritans.org (The response time for this is 24 hours).

You can also write to Samaritans and write on the envelope “Freepost SAMARITANS Letters”. If you post a letter, the charity aims to respond within 7 days.

Or the Samaritans self-help app, which is free although may not be the best method of contact if you require urgent assistance or want to talk to a person and discuss how you are feeling.

If you believe someone is in immediate danger, the quickest way to get assistance is to call emergency services on 999.

You can read more about Samaritans as an organisation and the services which they offer on their website, which is linked here.

Featured Image Credit: Samaritans

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