Samaritans working hard in the west

Off the fence
Samaritans working hard in the west


Off the fence
Suzanne Costello


VOLUNTEERS from the Western Region Branch of Samaritans were in Dublin this week for the launch of Samaritans’ first ever impact report for Ireland.  The report highlights the work of Samaritans’ 12 branches in the Republic of Ireland, including the Western Region Branch. 
Following the launch of the impact report, Samaritans volunteers met with members of the Oireachtas to brief them about their work.  The Western Region Branch – which has over 100 volunteers – was represented by Branch Director, Heather Pope, who met with a number of political representatives from Mayo, Galway and throughout the country. 
The average number of calls received each day by Samaritans Ireland’s helpline was 669.  We receive the greatest number of calls on Saturdays, with Wednesdays being the quietest day of the week.  The busiest day for calls was a Saturday in mid-August, when the Samaritans dealt with 1,057 calls. 
One of the most striking trends for the organisation in the past year was an increase in the intensity of calls received: the level of distress and anxiety being expressed by callers was more intense than in previous years. 
There has been a correlation between Ireland’s deepening economic crisis and the number and nature of calls to Samaritans.  However, for most people who make contact with our service, simply speaking to someone and not being judged offers huge relief.
Many of our callers over the past 12 months were experiencing relationship difficulties, which were exacerbated by financial difficulties.  Fear of unemployment, self-harm and anxiety about the future were also common reasons for calls to Samaritans.
Samaritans have been operating in Ireland for almost 50 years: we have experienced periods of economic difficulty before, and know the impact this has on people’s emotional well-being.
Samaritans’ services – in the Western Region and throughout the country – are delivered by trained volunteers: over 1,300 people volunteer with the organisation in Ireland.  All volunteers undergo intensive training, encompassing an introductory training programme lasting 16 weeks, and a six-month mentoring period once a volunteer has completed their initial training.  All volunteers undertake regular training as part of their volunteer commitment to the Samaritans.
Copies of the impact report launched by Samaritans Ireland are available to download from: http://www.samaritans.org/pdf/impact_report_2010_web.pdf.  Further information about the organisation is available at: www.samaritans.ie.  Samaritans’ helpline number is 1850 60 90 90.  The Western Region Branch is located at 14 Nun’s Island, Galway, and can be reached on 091-561222.

Suzanne Costello
is a Director of Samaritans in Ireland.