SOUTH SOMERSET NEWS: Christmas is “ear” and Samaritans in Yeovil are giving the gift of listening
NEW figures have revealed that one in three calls to Samaritans on Christmas Day are from people who feel lonely and isolated.
The festive period can be a challenging time for some and that’s why volunteers from Samaritans Yeovil, Sherborne & District are helping to keep the service running for those in need throughout the Christmas break, even on Christmas Day.
Samaritans responded to more than 400,000 calls for help during December 2017, by phone, email and text throughout the UK and Ireland. Despite all the festivities, more than 11,000 of those calls for help and emotional support came in on Christmas Day.
Samaritans is asking all of us to give the gift of listening this Christmas, by encouraging friends and family going through a difficult time to open up and know that it’s OK to not be OK, even at Christmas. To make it easier, the charity has produced a set of vouchers to download from the Samaritans website, offering time to listen as a present. A pair of novelty socks won’t save a life but listening can make a huge difference.
Samaritans volunteer from Yeovil, Jenny Jeans, with over 20 years of experience, will be on the phones once again on Christmas Day.
“Until you've sat in a Samaritans phone room and taken those calls over Christmas, you have no idea how tough it can be for a lot of people,” she said.
“Some people assume Samaritans are just about suicide prevention, but there's so much more to what we do, so many issues we deal with on a daily basis. I remember two years ago taking a call from a guy in Australia who was paraplegic but had no carers calling in on him on Christmas Day.
“He had been trying all day to talk to someone over the phone and said he felt like the only person left on the planet. He eventually found Samaritans’ national number and came through to the Yeovil Branch early on Christmas day morning when it was evening in his part of the world. He was utterly astonished that his call was answered by me. We spent time just talking. It truly made me realise that the best present we can give someone is our time to listen.”
Jacky Reed, who is both a volunteer and a branch trustee, will also be one of thousands of volunteers answering the phones this Christmas.
“If you’re feeling like it’s all too much, let someone know, don’t hide your feelings,” she said. “You can always call Samaritans. Whether you’re on your own, or alone in a crowd, feeling lonely and isolated can be exacerbated at this time of year. If you are having a good time at Christmas, make time to listen to others if it’s not so great for them. Just having someone to listen can be a huge relief, and make things easier to bear.”
You can download Samaritans’ Give The Gift of Listening vouchers for free at: http://www.samaritans.org/christmas2018. You can also give the gift of listening with a donation to help ensure that Samaritans’ services are there for anyone who needs them this Christmas and every single day of the year. You can also follow the campaign on social media #GiveTheGift.