We are delighted to announce the two beneficiary charities from Ambition 2019
Who we are and who we help
Samaritans at Ware is an entirely volunteer led charity providing emotional support to people of every age and social background who are in despair or distress. Some callers may be considering suicide or self harm. Some will be facing great personal difficulty and need to share it in confidence to explore their options. Some need to talk in the middle of the night to escape the threats and fears that plague them every hour of the day. And some people who call us are initially too distressed to share their problem but know that one of our volunteers will be available when they are ready to talk in confidence. Giving people time, undivided attention, without fear of prejudice or rejection meets a fundamental emotional need.
Samaritan volunteers at Ware ensure that callers needs are met every hour of the day, and everyday of the year, in the course of the year we are answering approaching 40,000 callers by enquiring "Samaritans. Can I help you?" In 2018 we celebrated 50 year's service to our community, and as fortunate beneficiaries of a substantial legacy we also substantially invested in our centre to ensure we are resilient and sustainable for the next 50 years.
Why Samaritans are needed and what we are achieving
In an ever pressured and competing world, exacerbated by social media the demands on our service have become even more pressing particularly from young people. Fortunately, however, with reducing stigma around mental health more people are discovering that sharing their feelings with Samaritans, at whatever hour they need to, can alleviate in some way their anxiety or distress and move on with their life.
Though sadly it remains a fact that after a period of decline suicide deaths increased in recent years due to the financial and economic crisis. There is a loss every 90 minutes in the UK, and suicide is the most common cause of death in men under 35, with huge long term emotional and social consequences felt by family, friends and colleagues.
Over the last 10 years Samaritans at Ware has seen a 50% increase in calls and we have increased our number of volunteers by 40%. Working with colleagues across the nation we have significantly improved our telephony to reduce the engaged rate across the network of centres and now offer our Freecall service on 116 123 to support in particular the most vulnerable.
We reach out wherever and whenever we are asked to. We also proactively reach out to schools, colleges and universities across the county. In supporting those most at risk in our community we work with a host of local agencies and statutory services - typically we support those held in custody units. We are currently contributing to Hertfordshire's suicide prevention strategy. We also pioneered the successful Network Rail partnership with Samaritans signage across the railways, and with attendance at stations when necessary. Significantly in recent years there has been a reduction in suicides across the railway.
How we deliver our service
We have over 130 highly trained and experienced volunteers to support our callers from our Cross Street centre in Ware at what ever hour they call. The significant majority of calls are by phone, but we also offer email and text services for those not able to talk about their concerns, and we are researching new ways of supporting callers. We are also open daily for 12 hours to walk-in visitors in person at Cross Street, and on outreach activities we take people aside if they want to talk in confidence.
Our volunteers are highly motivated and show exceptional levels of commitment to our duty rota which we formally agree with colleague centres in our region to ensure maximum coverage across the UK. Volunteers on request additionally undertake additional leadership roles and responsibilities associated with managing the charity and ensuring it remains resilient and sustainable.
Samaritans are one of the most effective and financially efficient charities in the UK. As we have no paid staff the annual cost of running our 24 hour 365 day service is approximately £40,000. We are immensely grateful to all the voluntary sources of income that support us. Samaritans' profile is understated due to the confidential and non-judgemental nature of our service though we are among the most respected and valued organisations in the charity sector.