Supporting Falkirk Samaritans so they can continue to be listening ear

They provide a listening ear to anyone who needs support, particularly at the darkest of times. The work they do is out of the public spotlight but the 20,000 volunteers with the Samaritans in the UK don’t do it for recognition, they do it to help others.

The telephone counselling service, launched in 1953 by London vicar Chad Varah who wanted to help people contemplating suicide, was described as ‘‘a man willing to listen, with a base and an emergency telephone’’.

Today it has over 200 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

And every six seconds, a Samaritan responds to a call for help.

The Falkirk and Central Scotland Samaritans branch has been running for over 55 years.

It was operating pre-lockdown with around 80 volunteers from its base in Orchard Street, Falkirk.

However, around 50 per cent of those are no longer able to attend because of self isolation due to age or their own health issues.

But thanks to the dedication of the remaining volunteers they are still delivering the same service and hours.

Vikki Louise Wilson, Falkirk and Central Scotland Samaritans branch director, said they were managing to do this “due to lockdown our other volunteers have more time to give as they aren’t working – and because they are amazing”.

She added: “Volunteers that are able to carry out shifts at Falkirk branch are following strict guidelines on hygiene standards and social distancing. The situation will be continually monitored to ensure that volunteer safety is prioritised.”

The Samaritans is a registered charity and one thing it does need more of is cash to support its work with those who are at their lowest ebb.

Vikki said: “Now, more than ever, we need the public’s continued support. Due to the cancellation of our upcoming fundraising events we are facing a significant loss of funding so we are calling on Falkirk residents to help us ensure that we continue to be here for anyone who needs support.”

The branch was delighted to receive a donation of just over £300 from NHS workers at Falkirk Community Hospital.

Deby Millar and Lisa Reid saw a Twitter post saying the Samaritans were looking for donations and, prior to lockdown, they organised a bake sale in the eye clinic out patient department.

And Deby also raised £805.25 for the Samaritans by walking 100 miles in ten days.

Thanking them, Vikki said: “This truly is an act of kindness and we would like to thank Deby and Lisa for the generous donation. Now more than ever, we need the public’s continued support at present due to the cancellation of our upcoming fundraising events as we are facing a significant loss of funding. Their efforts are just amazing - true community spirit.”

To find out about fundraising or make a donation, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1016793.

Anyone can contact Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile.

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