Case Studies

Teesside Samaritans

Margaret Horrocks, Director: I am responsible for the day-to-day contact management of the Teesside Branch of Samaritans, to make sure we run efficiently and effectively in our work with people who are in crisis and suicidal. My role also involves the development of all our volunteers in the branch.

Samaritans was founded in 1953 by the late Prebendary Dr Chad Varah. With just one phone and a small group of volunteers in the crypt of his church, St Stephen Wallbrook, the world's first crisis hotline telephone support to those contemplating suicide, was established.

Samaritans' vision is that fewer people die by suicide. We do this by being available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide confidential, non-judgemental, emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of emotional distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide.

In 2013 Teesside Samaritans had 36 volunteers who accepted 13,610 contacts via telephone, face to face and email. We support Holme House and Kirlevington Grange prisons, offer a drop-in session at MIND Middlesbrough and work with schools, colleges and the university to liaise on mental health and well-being.

Volun-tees enable us to access a vital source of young, enthusiastic and very capable support volunteers to help with research and fundraising. It also raises awareness for the need of younger, reliable listening volunteers, who are prepared to give their time to help others, when they are at the lowest point in their lives, especially through the night.

We held a M.A.D. Day event where University volunteers became involved in creating a large map of the Teesside area, locating areas which are most in need of our emotional support,those where we are most likely to receive financial support and those where we are most likely to recruit both listening and support volunteers. This work will have a huge impact on the forwarding planning and continued development of Teesside Samaritans within our community and we hope the University's volunteers will continue to support us through fundraising events, publicity, design work, IT support, leaflet dropping and supporting us in our outreach work with primary schools.

My advice to organisations seeking University volunteers is to be as enthusiastic as they are. Make sure they know about your organisation, so they understand how important their role is with you. Give them space to be creative and receive new ideas openly. Most of all, show them how happy and appreciative you are to have them involved with your organisation.