The Shetland branch of the Samaritans has been given a clean bill of health by the charity’s own internal inspectors.
Two “visitors”, as they’re known within the charity, spent part of last week visiting the centre at Charlotte Street, Lerwick, meeting local volunteers and having talks with senior post holders in the branch.
Maggie Mehta and Monica Wyatt, both from the south of England, said they had been impressed by the dedication of the local team of operational volunteers and the back-up staff who maintain the computer links, raise funds and help with things like cleaning, building maintenance and administration.
Ms Mehta said: “I think the branch is doing an amazing job. There’s a group of very loyal volunteers, loyal to the branch but more importantly loyal to the whole concept of Samaritans, and what we’ve seen leads us to feel that Shetland Samaritans are a safe pair of hands in the community.”
The centre in Lerwick is open five nights a week to give support to people who are anxious, distressed and suicidal.
Volunteers can speak face to face to locals who call in at the centre, but more often answer telephone calls and e-mails which can come from all over Britain, Ireland and beyond.
The branch has also just started to take on new responsibilities for answering text messages.
Branch chairman Edith Leask said the new service was being rolled out across the country in an effort to make it easier for the younger generation to ask for and receive help when they are at their most vulnerable.
She says the main focus is on making sure anyone who needs help can reach Samaritans as quickly and easily as possible, and to that end she hopes that more volunteers can be attracted to the charity’s vital work.
“We always need more people,” she said. “The more volunteers we can get in our branch, trained here by our own training team, the better the service we can offer.”
Anyone interested in helping the local branch is invited to visit the charity’s website at www.samaritans.org for more information.
If anyone needs support through a time of distress or suicidal feelings they can e-mail through the same web address, and phone or text for free on 116 123.
• For more see Friday’s Shetland Times.