Horsham and Crawley Samaritans is ‘busier than ever’

Horsham and Crawley Samaritans has said it is ‘busier than ever’ but still here to offer support to people.

Friday, 29th May 2020, 11:11 am

A spokesman for the group said it was ‘certainly feeling the strain’ on its services.

He added: “With over 30 per cent of listening volunteers in isolation, branches all over the country are finding their services stretched to the limit.

“We’re experiencing more calls from people struggling to cope and expressing feelings of fear, panic, isolation or even suicidal thoughts.

Volunteer Jacqui cleaning the phone and work station prior to taking calls.

“At Horsham and Crawley Samaritans, our branch in Denne Road remains open and busier than ever, with a remaining core of volunteers taking calls and emails around the clock.

“We had to temporarily take the difficult decision to stop seeing face to face callers, but we still want people to know that we’re still here for them via phone or email.”

The safety of volunteers is of the utmost importance, according to the spokesman.

He said the group is applying strict guidelines with regard to hygiene and social distancing.

The spokesman added: “Fortunately, the screens around our work stations that we use for minimising sound, are also proving useful in offering a degree of protection.

“We’re incredibly proud of how our volunteers have given extra time to support people who are feeling isolated at the moment.

Volunteer Jacqui Clark said: “The calls I had on my last shift were really intense. Many people are finding things incredibly hard to cope with right now.

“It’s so good that we can still be there for them when they need us most.”

The branch has had to get used to several changes including with recruitment.

Volunteer Linda Palmer, who leads on recruiting new volunteers in the branch said: “We’re now managing interviews on-line.

“This has worked really well so far, and we’ve accepted several prospective volunteers in time for our next training course in September.

“We’re still looking for more people to join our team though. We encourage people who are interested to check out our website, register, and then we can send you an application form.”

Branch director Kevin Hawkes explained the problem the branch is experiencing in relation to generating funds.

He said: “Usually in the Spring and Summer we would be out and about at events, outside supermarkets or in work places, raising awareness and fundraising, but of course, we’ve not been able to do this, and it’s hit our branch hard.

“We have to generate all of the funds to keep the branch going ourselves, as we don’t receive government money, so every penny really does count.

“We appreciate that many people are facing financial insecurity right now, but If you’re in a position to help, you can donate easily and quickly via our website.

“A donation as little as £5 will help volunteers to answer a call from help from someone who is struggling to cope. Whatever you can do to help us is so much appreciated.”

To apply to become a Samaritan listening volunteer or to support your local branch by providing a much needed donation, see www.samaritans.org/horshamandcrawley

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