21 February 1996

SAMARITANS: ANATOMY OF

A CHARITY

THE Samaritans is a registered charity, founded in 1953, which provides confidential and emotional support to people in crisis.

Wherever you are in the UK you can call (0345-909090) or anywhere in the Republic of Ireland (1850-609090) and contact the Samaritans for the price of a local call.

The Samaritans aim is to provide society with a better understanding of suicide and the value of expressing feelings that may lead to suicide. Its vision is to make Samaritan befriending available at any hour for everyone passing through crisis and at risk of suicide.

In 1995 the Samaritans received 3.8m calls, an increase of 5% and in the same year the number of volunteers fell by 4%. In order to maintain the 24-hour service more volunteers are needed. The aim of the charitys Operation 10,000 campaign is to encourage anyone who may has an interest in volunteering their talents to contact their local branch (see local phone book) and go along to an open evening.

Both listeners and fund-raisers are required. The average branch costs £43 a day to keep open.

Listening volunteers need have no previous experience or qualifications but must have the ability to listen to others without judgement and the commitment of a weekly 3-4 hour shift and an overnight shift once a month.

The minimum age is 17.