WHAT sort of person are you? Could you listen to someone’s troubles without judgment or interruption? Are you compassionate and empathetic? Do you understand that others might not be able to cope, but it might help them to speak to someone – even a stranger at the end of the phone?

The Northallerton & The Dales branch of the charity, Samaritans, is looking for volunteers to join them so that they can continue to help people at their most desperate time of need.

Even if you don’t see yourself as the person at the end of the phone – you could still help.

Every Samaritans branch is run by volunteers – more than 20,000 people across 201 branches. Almost 17,000 are listening volunteers, trained to respond to calls for help from individuals who feel they have nowhere else to turn.

Others raise funds to keep the branches going. Whatever time they give, and however they give it, every volunteer is important to the charity.

Most people have heard of Samaritans - a unique charity dedicated to reducing the feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide. Every six seconds they respond to a call for help. Every year, they answer more than five million calls for help, by phone, email, SMS, letter, or face-to-face at a local branch. In 2018, more than 1,700 people in prisons volunteered as trained Listeners, providing peer support.

There is a skill to listening to someone who is at their lowest ebb; it’s not easy and not everyone is suited to it. But the charity will make the most of the skills that you do have. As a new Listening Volunteer, you would be fully trained and mentored as you learn and build the skills required – skills that are also very useful in your everyday life and relationships.

Julie Stanford, Director of Northallerton & The Dales branch, says: “We need volunteers in lots of areas, so that we can keep the service going for anyone who is struggling, wherever they are, whatever time of day or night.

“Samaritans is a remarkable organisation. There isn’t another one that is almost solely supported by volunteers. All of our funds are raised by volunteers holding small events throughout the year, which allows us to be available when the phone rings.

“While we need more people who are prepared to listen, we also need volunteers who will help us to raise funds.”

The service is changing as the charity responds to what people need, and, increasingly, many of their callers are young people who may choose to contact the charity by text or email, rather than by telephone. As Julie says: “A person in need is a person in need; however they wish to contact us, we will be there for them.”

If you have some time to spare and would like to be part of that change, please email: volunteering@samaritans-northallerton.org, and we’ll be in touch.

Samaritans UK Helpline: 116 123 (Freephone)

www.samaritans.org/branches/northallerton

Northallerton & The Dales branch, 7 Crosby Road, Northallerton, DL6 1AA

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