|Local Samaritans Branch Celebrates 40 Years|
Volunteers gather in Chiswick to mark occasion
A gathering to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the local branch of the Samaritans was held at St. Michael and All Angels, Chiswick.
Many former volunteers returned for the reception which was attended by local dignitaries including; Deputy Mayor of Ealing, Cllr. Mohammad Aslam, Mayor of Hounslow, Cllr. Amrit Mann, (his last official day as Mayor) Ms. Mary MacLeod MP (Brentford and Isleworth), Cllr. David Millican (Northfield), Mr. Andrew Slaughter MP (Hammersmith) and Cllr John Todd of Chiswick..
The local branch of the charity takes about 31,000 calls a year from people in emotional distress.
The Branch Director, Mr. John Royale said the event was held to thank their volunteers for their contribution and to raise awareness of the work carried out by the Samaritans.
“ Many people do not know that we are an independant charity, not affiliated to the state or any church. Also people tend to think we are constantly helping people about to commit suicide, but in reality, people who call are in emotional distress, but maybe not at that point of despair”.
He said many of the calls in recent years came from people with money problems because of the economic recession.
Mr. Royale, who lives in Chiswick, has been Branch Director for eleven years and said the Samaritans were always keen to recruit more volunteers, and for extra funding.
There are currently 110 volunteers affiliated to the Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow branch, which includes Chiswick. Two Samaritans listening volunteers opened the event with a role-play. Entitled “The Call”, the short demonstration which provided guests with an insight into the work of the charity.
BBC media correspondent, Torin Douglas, who introduced the event, followed this by interviews with Sophie Andrews - ex-chair of Samaritans and author of 'Scarred'. Ms Andrews talked about the charity from the perspective of being a caller herself and then subsequently becoming a Samaritans volunteer.
Roger Mullins, chairman of Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow Samaritans said: “The evening was a great success. A large number of current and ex-volunteers turned up to mark the anniversary, and quite a few ex-volunteers expressed an interest in returning to the branch. It was a good opportunity for us to let supporters in the local community know more about our work and how we support callers in distress.”
Fullers donated refreshments to the event, and the evening was rounded off with a raffle of various prizes, thanks to the kind donations of local businesses.
Samaritans vision is that fewer people die by suicide. The funds raised from the raffle will go towards ensuring that the branch can continue its work to achieve this vision, by offering emotional support to anyone experiencing emotional distress or despair.
June 1, 2012