Samaritans volunteers in Hastings and Rother will be amongst those on hand for a staggering 123,000 hours over the festive season to listen to anyone having a tough time.
More than 11,000 volunteers across the UK and Ireland will be working shifts for the charity to ensure its helpline is open around the clock, even on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
Mental health, family issues, isolation and loneliness are expected to be the top concerns. Relationship problems, physical health, violence, abuse and bereavement are likely to feature too, as well as drug and alcohol misuse.
At the same time, Samaritans is encouraging people to give the gift of listening by telling friends and family it’s OK to open up if something is troubling them. To make it easy, the charity has produced a set of vouchers to give as presents, offering yourself as a listening ear. You can invite someone to confide in you over a coffee, while out on a walk, or in a whatever way you feel they will be most comfortable with.
Judith calle Samaritans when she had a difficult Christmas. She said: “I was so unhappy and it spilled over into my family life.
“Having a Samaritan to talk to when I felt overwhelmed by my feelings was an important release for me.
“It was a way of managing life at a very stressful time.”
Samaritans was also there for Michael. He said: “There is an expectation across society that Christmas is a great time of the year, everyone should be having fun.
“And I was trying, but I just couldn’t. All I wanted to do was hide under a duvet and cry. It was awful.
“With Samaritans, there was this realisation that you could phone them, and they wouldn’t judge you. They would let you express what you were going though and help you realise that it was ok to be having a bad time, even at Christmas.”
Samaritans volunteer and director of the Hastings and Rother branch Peter said: “If you’re dealing with difficult thoughts and feelings, the festive season can make everything seem worse.
“Whether you’re on your own or feeling alone in a crowd, we don’t want anyone to struggle.
“So, remember you can call Samaritans for free from any phone and, if you’re expecting to have a good Christmas this year yourself, have a think about those around you who may not be as lucky and give them the gift of listening.”
Download Samaritans’ Give The Gift of Listening vouchers for free at www.samaritans.org/vouchers.
If you need emotional support over the Christmas and New Year period, call 116 123. This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org