Samaritans seek new volunteers
The organisation Samaritans of Shetland hopes to have some new volunteers after holding an information evening on Friday.
The charity, which provides a listening service for people feeling depressed or suicidal, needs people to help – not necessarily as “listening volunteers” but as “friends of Samaritans”.
This could entail helping at events, publicity, fundraising, admin or IT backup.
Secretary Mary Irvine said: “We would love some more listening volunteers but we would like to hear from anyone interested in helping in any way.”
Chairwoman Cathy Goudie said there are 15 listening Samaritans at present – there were 26 when she joined 10 years ago.
She called it a “very worthwhile organisation”, said the volunteers, who work about one evening a week, are like a “family”. They support one another, and get great satisfaction from feeling they had helped someone.
Mrs Goudie said that the service does not give advice, but just lets the caller (or the person who makes contact by email or comes to the premises in person) talk. She said: “It’s sometimes the first time they’ve been able to talk, they often don’t want to upset family or friends.”
People could be “actively suicidal” when they phone, she said, or else they could feel their problem is petty: “but it’s not if it’s upsetting them”.
The Samaritans’ task is to speak calmly and “gently get them to explore their choices”.
And, she added: “I’m absolutely sure we’ve saved lives.”
Everything is entirely confidential. Mrs Goudie said: “It’s nice if callers give you a first name, but they could give any name or none. We can’t trace calls and it’s totally confidential.”
The service would particularly like to recruit more male volunteers but anyone is welcome to apply – they just need “empathy”. Volunteers’ expenses are paid by the organisation. A full eight weeks initial training is given to volunteers, with at least five hours ongoing training a year.
Samaritans is run in Linda Rose House, Charlotte Street, Lerwick, near the Havly Cafe, and is open five nights a week.