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By Euan Maxwell
Front
Charity marks milestone

THE region’s Samaritans are today marking 40 years since their formation.

The charity, who currently have 24 volunteers, will host a celebration at the Cumberland Street Day Care Centre, Dumfries on Saturday at 12 pm.

The service offers a confidential emotional support service for anyone in the UK and Ireland. Samaritans operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is for people who are experiencing emotional distress or despair, including those who may be feeling suicidal.

Mike Whelan, Samaritans of Dumfries director, says the charity are actively looking for new volunteers. He said: “We currently have 24 Samaritans in Dumfries but we are hoping to double this over the next two years. We own the building in Loreburn Street but hopefully we will sell this in the very near future and relocate to a building that is better suited to our requirements.”

Volunteers can offer their support either by answering phone calls or responding to emails and letters. They also meet face-to-face with people in need of emotional support in their office. To keep up with current communication trends, Samaritans are introducing a “web chat” service. This is currently being trialed by some branches and will be introduced to the whole national service in a matter of months. Mike said: “Samaritans, I believe, are an invaluable, well-established service, who receive over five million telephone calls a year. There are 201 branches and over 20,000 volunteers working 24/7 to receive these calls, reply to emails, letters and the new web chat service. We are trained to be non-judgmental and not to offer advice.

“My mother always said to me remember, a problem shared is a problem halved, and I fully endorse this proverb. From a small inconsequential problem, mountains are made. Men especially do not like sharing with anyone.”

Statistics reveal men are three times more likely to take their own life in the UK but show that in Scotland this figure is even greater. The suicide rate among young people in Scotland aged 15-24 is the highest it has been since 2007.

Mike added: “That’s where the Samaritan values and method comes into effect. We give people the space to be themselves and offer a safe place for people to talk, any time they like, in their own way about whatever is getting to them. “We won’t judge them or tell them what to do, we listen. In fact I personally believe that Samaritans are the fourth emergency service.”

For more information to volunteer visit: www.samaritans.org/volunteer 

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