SUICIDE, debt, redundancy, dependency and divorce are just some of the countless calls volunteers at the Samaritans face during a shift.
Hollie Kutsuya (26), is one such volunteer at the Mansfield branch, based on Grove Street, who gives up her spare time to help others.
“I started volunteering just before Christmas as my full-time job is in telesales and I thought I could transfer some of my skills to this role and learn new ones,” she said.
“In sales it’s all about controlling the call and using powers of persuasion, but by becoming a Samaritan I have learnt to listen more.”
The purpose of the charity is to help anyone who is in distress or despair for whatever reason without judging, giving opinions or telling people what to do.
“We have to remain impartial and keep our personal views to one side whilst maintaining confidentiality. It’s all about just being there to listen no matter what. We become the caller’s confidential friend,” Hollie said.
Samaritans was started in 1953 by a young vicar in London called Chad Varah. It was the death of a 14- year-old girl who prompted Chad to set up the scheme after she started her periods, but having no one to talk to believed that she had a sexually transmitted disease and took her own life.
Now the charity has 201 branches nationwide each operating as an independent charity under the Samaritans umbrella offering a service 24/7, 365 days a year.
The Mansfield branch is due to celebrate its 40th year on 21st April and plans a reunion for volunteers, supporters and fundraisers at Clipstone Social Club.
Director Rob Barton, who has been involved in the Mansfield branch for 13 years, said it is a magical milestone.
“We are so proud that we have maintained the Samaritans’ service here in the town for 40 years,” he said.
“It has been difficult at times recruiting people to help and raise the necessary funds to stay operational but we have done it thanks to the efforts of all our volunteers over the years.”
Hollie has received invaluable training to prepare her to take calls at the centre and was appointed a mentor to help her initially.
“I attended an induction course at first that was very involved and included mock calls and skills practice with a range of problems.
“It is very organised and everybody is supportive of each other. There are times when you may have had a particularly distressing call that you need someone to talk to about it - and there is always that option.”
Volunteers are asked to commit, where possible, to three or four shifts a month including one night shift, but are grateful for any time people can offer.
“Volunteering here is very rewarding as you are directly helping others,” added Hollie. “Some people who call are just lonely whilst others question the need to carry on living. Knowing there is someone who will listen gives them time and space to gather their thoughts and give clarity to their situation.”
“Before the Samaritans there wasn’t a service like this and some people were unable to see a way out of their problems,” added Hollie. “Even though I know I can’t ‘save’ everybody, just being here listening and giving someone my time is a job well done.”
To become a volunteer check out the website at www.samaritans.org. If you want to speak to a Samaritan for help call 01623 422224.