The volunteers will provide a vital lifeline to people in distress. They will answer calls to the Samaritans helpline, as well helping to fundraise and deliver other services in the region. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool health cash plan provider Medicash has provided £10,000 of funding that will enable the Liverpool and Merseyside Samaritans to support 100 new “listening volunteers.
The volunteers will provide a vital lifeline to people in distress. They will answer calls to the Samaritans helpline, as well helping to fundraise and deliver other services in the region.
David Ashton, Samaritans branch director, said: “We provide emotional support to those experiencing distress, despair and suicidal thoughts. There has been a huge surge in the number of calls we receive to our free telephone helpline in recent years – and in fact a sharp increase in all forms of contact with us.
“Last year, 45,000 people rang us. The money from Medicash means that, over the next five years, we will be able to handle an additional 100,000 calls. It is a really great boost for us and will have a major impact on so many people in urgent need of our help.”
There are 13 suicides every day in the UK. In 2016 over 140 people took their own life in Merseyside alone, this was up 5% on the previous year at a time when suicide rates were generally falling across the UK.
The highest rates are amongst men between 40 and 44 and female suicide is at its highest rate for over a decade. Suicide remains the single biggest killer of men aged 20-49 in England and Wales.
Liverpool was the second branch of the Samaritans to open in England in 1960. Alan Woodhouse, a founder member, still works as a volunteer today.
Medicash marketing manager Andy Abernethy said: “Mental health is a serious issue which is affecting more and more people of all ages and backgrounds.
“The Samaritans perform life-saving work and we are pleased that our support can help make a sustainable difference to them and the communities they serve.”
Volunteers currently range in age from 18 to over 90. Anyone interested in getting involved should go to www.samaritans.org/volunteer to find out more.